What could be more fun than a happy, excited child on Halloween? Why, a room full of them, of course! That is what College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences students learned this past October participating in the annual Healthy Halloween event.
For more than 10 years, Phi Lambda Sigma, a pharmacy leadership society, has organized this Halloween learning and play event for children of incarcerated mothers who attend the after-school program of Hour Children, a Long Island City, NY-based nonprofit. Phi Lambda Sigma invites members of other student organizations to participate in the event, which includes an interactive discussion on healthy eating habits and how to distinguish between candy and medication, followed by arts and crafts activities and, of course, a run through the Haunted Tunnel.
This year, 60 volunteers were recruited from eight different student organizations: the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists, Drug Information Association, Industry Pharmacists Organization, Lambda Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Chi, Rho Chi, and the Student Society of Pediatric Pharmacy.
Pharmacy student Isabelle Litvak, Phi Lambda Sigma President, has been a Healthy Halloween volunteer for the past few years and this year took on the task of its coordination. “The event meant so much more to me because I put in months of work,” she said.
“It was so rewarding to see how happy the children were; it really made the effort worthwhile.”
Planning for Healthy Halloween and its sister event, My Vascular Valentine, which is held each February, is a year-round activity. Phi Lambda Sigma fundraises for these events through the sale of sweatshirts and a campus bake sale.
“This is a completely student-driven event. I am extremely proud of all of the students involved for their enthusiasm and efforts,” said Olga Hilas, Pharm.D., MPH, BCPS, BCGP, FASCP, Assistant to the Dean for Academic Advisement; Associate Professor, Clinical Health Professionals; and the event’s faculty adviser.
Helping others is the lynchpin of the University’s Vincentian mission, and it is clear that Healthy Halloween is a highly effective way for students to learn the benefits of service to others. “These opportunities to serve are something I did not really have in high school,” explained Isabelle. “Participating in things like this helps put things into perspective. It makes us realize how grateful we should be for what we have.”