By Mark Hallum
St. Mary’s Hospital for Children and Spirit Halloween Superstore came together to throw a costume party for the patients of the Bayside health care center at 29-01 216th St. last week for the third year in a row.
The young patients in various age groups were given the opportunity to enjoy the holiday outside their usual routine by the Spirit Halloween’s charity program called the Spirit of Children Foundation, which donates costumes and toys to children’s hospitals and will donate 10 percent of the profits from its stores in Queens to St. Mary’s.
“We love bringing the costumes to the kids and getting them all excited about [Halloween],” Blanca Villarreal, district sales manager for Spirit of Halloween, said. “It’s a day for them to enjoy themselves and interact with other kids, because they’re in their beds most of the time. It’s a wonderful program. We’ve been doing it for years and collected thousands of dollars for St. Mary’s Hospital.”
About 40 in-patient and out-patient children who are treated at St. Mary’s took part in arts and crafts activities and face painting.
“The Spirit of Children is the heart and soul of Spirit Halloween,” Long Island Zone Manager Dawn Martin said. “It’s something we do in conjunction with our vendors and in-store donations every season. Throughout the country we’ve already raised about $13 million since it went into effect in 2007. It’s the best thing we do.”
Miriam DiLorenzo is an associate at a Spirit Halloween store in Queens and volunteers for the foundation because of the work it does to improve the lives of children fighting debilitating and life-threatening conditions.
“Halloween is my favorite time of year, and when Spirit Halloween comes it’s very exciting. They enjoy it, they love dressing up and the energy is great. They love all the arts and crafts [Spirit of Children] bring to do. The kids love it and we love it, too,” said Janet Gomez, senior therapeutic activity assistant. “I think it brings a little bit of normalcy. Some of them are not allowed to go out and do the regular trick or treating.”
Batman made an appearance to entertain the children, courtesy of Six Flags New England, and was a hit with patients who gathered around to interact with the caped crusader.
“Spirit of Children is a great way to give back to the communities we are a part of each season,” said Rick Tereo, corporate administration director for Spencer Spirit Holdings. “This year we were excited to bring costumes, crafts and Batman to the kids at St. Mary’s, who brought super-hero strength and smiles to these young patients who couldn’t otherwise celebrate Halloween.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall