MILLSBORO, DE—As millions throughout the U.S. determine how best to celebrate the summer during the COVID-19 pandemic, one man has his sights set on Halloween.
Jason Rhodes, founder of the Halloween Fun Pack Project, hopes to provide up to 1,000 free “fun packs” with candy, stickers, trading cards, activity pages and more this October to children throughout the U.S. who may be unable to trick-or-treat due to COVID-19.
“Most people at this time of the year normally are thinking about beaches and vacations, not jack-o-lanterns and skeletons,” said Rhodes. “To make this project a reality, however, likely will require months of fundraising, which is why it’s important to start now.”
Rhodes is no stranger to starting Halloween planning early. For nine years, he organized Treat Street, a safe Halloween trick-or-treating event in Salisbury, MD, that required months of advance planning and a similar fundraising commitment to serve hundreds of children annually.
Established in response to parents concerned about taking their children trick-or-treating door-to-door following an increase in reported crime, that project was named the No. 1 youth event in the nation by JCI USA, then known as the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.
“The goal then was similar to the goal of this project: to provide children with a sense of normalcy and enjoyment during what may be an otherwise disappointing time for them due to circumstances beyond their control.”
Rhodes hopes to raise $4,200 to support the Halloween Fun Pack Project through crowdfunding and sponsorships. A GoFundMe site with information on donor incentives and more is available at gofundme.com/f/halloween-fun-pack-project-covid19.
“All of the donor incentives play on the Halloween and monster theme, and most are exclusive to this project,” said Rhodes. “Several artists throughout the country, whose work has been featured by comic book and trading card companies such as Topps, Upper Deck, Leaf and Cryptozoic, are providing original art for donors in the way of signed monster- and horror-themed sketch cards. It has been exciting to see their interpretations of the genre.”
Sketch card artists signed on for the project so far include Rob Floyd of Portsmouth, VA; Justin Girard of Sayreville, NJ; Andrew Lopez of Whittier, CA; Clay Sayre of Dawsonville, GA; and Eric Sobel of Toledo, OH.
Parents may register children age 12 and under to receive a free fun pack beginning in September. Packs will be mailed the week of October 25 on a first-come, first-served basis in the order registrations are received.
“The goal is to send 1,000, but it all depends on funding,” said Rhodes. “Based on whether we meet or exceed our fundraising target, we could end up sending fewer or a whole lot more.”
And what if COVID-19 doesn’t turn out to be a problem this Halloween?
“Then we’ll join the world in celebrating,” said Rhodes. “However, with some states and jurisdictions already saying schools may not reopen until at least January and health officials predicting the virus may spike again in the fall, I think most people are anticipating that COVID-19 unfortunately is still going to be with us in some form this Halloween.
“Even if government or municipal orders don’t shut down trick-or-treating, I think there are going to be more than a few parents who will be concerned about the germ factor of accepting candy from unknown households. And there will always be children unable to trick-or-treat due to other considerations, such as general safety and medical conditions. I’m proud that this project will help fill that need. The more smiles we can put on kids’ faces this Halloween, the better.”
For more information visit the Halloween Fun Pack Project website at www.halloweenfunpack.com.