Over 600 superheroes, Disney characters, and monsters gathered in Portage Tuesday evening in the parking lot of Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities (NEO) for the first Trunk or Treat hosted by NorthShore Health Centers. The family friendly event gave children an early chance to show off their Halloween costumes and allowed parents to perform a test run of the trick-or-treating experience. Along with candy, other unique goodies were distributed including toothbrushes, healthcare educational material, nail polish, and even first aid kits.
Gervay Dickerson, Lead Event Coordinator for NorthShore, worked alongside her 5-year-old son, C.J., to hand out candy and glow sticks to all the children in the long line. Dickerson explained how the collaboration and support from local school and businesses makes planning events like the Trunk or Treat possible. She expressed her gratitude towards The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students from Portage High School, who were there to help with the event by directing traffic, guiding the families to the start of the event, and even with post event clean up. Additionally, she thanked the generosity of Family Dollar for their fundraising efforts so that they could give children toothpaste and toothpaste along with the dental hygiene information distributed to the children by NorthShore.
“This event highlights the new building that NEO just moved into while allowing us to work with them and our many community partners,” Dickerson explained. “It’s all about us all coming together to offer a free, safe event for local families in the area. All of our partners, local businesses, and even some members of the community are here today to distribute candy and items to the kids. When I organize these family friendly events, I really try to get feedback from our NorthShore families on what they’d like to see and, as a parent, really try to think about what my 5-year-old son would enjoy. We want these free events to be fun for everyone while we connect with the community.”
Michelle Higel, Lead Family Care Coordinator at NorthShore, had the opportunity to give an unexpected gift to the moms in attendance at the Trunk or Treat. Higel distributed bottles of Halloween inspired nail polish to the mothers. Each bottle had a little tag attached stating, “Polish up on upcoming events.” The gift helped them advertise a special NorthShore Facebook page that is dedicated to advertising free family events in Northwest Indiana, safety recall updates, and other information useful for local parents. The kids were excited after getting all their own goodies to point out their moms so that mom could get her special treat too.
“We wanted to thank the moms today for taking time out of their evenings to bring their kids here,” Higel stated. “We know that moms are busy and we appreciate them being here today with us. There’s a really hard working team of event planners at NorthShore. We always brainstorm on ways to make the events fun for the whole family and came up with this idea to make moms feel special today too!”
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, a partner of NorthShore, was one of the businesses handing out goodies to the children. Allyson Collins, an Outreach Specialist at Engaging Solutions, an Anthem vendor, went with the medical theme by offering unique and practical items to the families. In addition to handing out candy to the children, Collins also gave parents first aid kits and chapstick.
“I was overwhelmed by the success of this event,” Collins stated. “It’s important for us at Anthem to be able to connect to to the community and appreciate the opportunity to do so through our partnership with NorthShore. This was a great, successful event. I met a lot of local families and got to see a lot of wonderful costumes!”
Children and families, don’t pack up your Halloween costumes just yet. NorthShore is hosting a second Truck or Treat on Halloween Day in Lake Station and hopes that the community presence there will be just as strong as the Portage event.