More than a dozen kids in Bayside got to celebrate Halloween a little earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, St. Mary’s Hospital for Children — located at 29-01 216th St. — partnered with Spirit Halloween for its annual Halloween party for pediatric patients and their families.
Through the company’s Spirit of Children program, volunteers from local Spirit Halloween stores treated kids to a festive afternoon complete with mask decorating, face painting and a table of themed goodies which featured treats from beloved franchises such as Pokémon, Shopkins and Harry Potter.
Spirit Halloween also provided each child with a costume to help them get into the holiday spirit, including pop culture favorites like Luigi from the Mario Bros. and classics like vampires and werewolves. Also in attendance were Donatello and Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for fun interactions and memorable photo ops with the kids.
“The annual Spirit of Children Halloween Party is an amazing way to celebrate the spirit of St. Mary’s children. Our children, families and staff look forward to this event each year. We are so grateful for our partnership,” said Victoria Falcone, the manager of strategic partnerships at St. Mary’s.
Chris Manetakis has served as the event leader from Spirit Halloween for the past three seasons, though he said the company’s partnership with St. Mary’s dates back to 2007.
In addition to the Bayside event, Manetakis said that he would be involved with other nearby hospitals in the upcoming weeks including Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, NYU Winthrop Hospital and Bellvue Hospital Center.
Through the Spirit of Children Program, the company will host nearly 100 Halloween parties at various pediatric hospitals for children who may not otherwise be able to enjoy the fun of the season.
The Spirit of Children program first started in 2006 and is “focused on making hospitals less scary for kids and their families,” according to the organization. Program funding comes from their business partners as well as voluntary donations made at Spirit Halloween stores and online.
Since 2007, the Halloween retailer has been able to collect more than $45 million in cash and merchandise to support Child Life Departments at participating hospitals. This year, Spirit Halloween hopes to raise $9 million, some of which will directly go toward St. Mary’s Child Life Department.
Funding is allocated between salaries for Child Life Specialists and Fellows, a full-time Child Life presence in the Emergency Department and the creation of playrooms, teen lounges and family space.
Additionally, hospitals are also able to purchase educational equipment, computers, iPads and distraction toys for use during procedures as well as toys created specifically for physical and developmental limitations.
Reach reporter Jenna Bagcal by e-mail at jbagc
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