Nada Shawish is Communications Specialist at Islamic Relief USA.
Forget, just for a moment, debates about the commodification of Halloween and other days happening in the United States now through the end of the year, and forgive me while I take the idea of “treating” in another direction. I promise I’m not about to encourage or discourage Halloween or any other day. Anyway, I think there’s something really disturbing about joining the innocence of babes and their love for sweets and zombie-creatures roaming around with blood and gore and … you know what I mean.
But let’s consider ways to treat in America that make a lot of sense every day, not just this time of year.
Seriously. From now through basically January, you’ll find candy everywhere across the good old United States of America. Literally, everywhere. And if not candy, you’ll find pastries, sweets and treats of every kind because of all of the holidays that people are celebrating. Even if you don’t partake in any of the end-of-the-year post-October holidays, you can’t avoid all of the delicious goodies that abound every single time you enter a grocery store.
The scariest thing: Your waistline if you let the treat-season get the best of you.
And don’t forget about all those children screaming and running around on copious amounts of sugar. Not so pleasant, joyous or charitable. If you want to see children not-so-innocent, feed them a lot of sugar. You can, however, take this opportunity to show little ones a thing or two about treating others during this time of year, and instead of filling them (and yourself) up with sugar, consider doing things with them that honor a tradition of giving, while still being fun, treat-like and faith-based (without the sugar-loading).
Here are some ideas for good things you can do sans ingesting candy:
1. Some little ones are too sick to be having candy, let alone go out and play. Every day is scary for them because they’re fighting for their little lives. And they don’t know if they’ll ever get better. Decorate cards with a seasonal message for terminally ill children and send it to them. There are many organizations that will deliver cards for you. Here’s one: Cards for Kids.
2. Or give children with disabilities superpowers by sending them superhero capes! Capes4Heroes is just one of many organizations who are doing this all year long. They make and personalize superhero capes for kids with disabilities, kids with life threatening illnesses and kids who just need to feel empowered. According to their website: “We hope our capes give these deserving kids an extra boost of strength and courage and make them feel like the superheroes they truly are!”
3. Recycle candy by sending it to someone less fortunate through your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Many people think that only adults are homeless, but there are many families with children in the United States that are living in shelters and utilizing the resources at local kitchens and food pantries. Some children are even all alone. You could be sending a treat that will make this colder time of year a little warmer.
4. Skip candy altogether, and collect spare change through the end of the year. There are several programs that make this fun for kids (and adults). Rice bowls will send you actual rice bowl banks as a collection vessel for you to fill with change. UNICEF also has little donation boxes perfect for little hands.
No matter what you do, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can’t repurpose this time of year in the United States to do good things (good for you, for kids, and for everyone else).
Find ways to treat yourself to good deeds, and take the opportunity to teach young sprouts about living a charitable life now so that entering the next life will be a little less scary.
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