WASHINGTON – If they were older, they might be known as the lobbying firm of Beauchamp, Murphy and Wiegmann.
But the Rockville eighth graders who put together Halloween for Heroes — distributing 200 fliers, drafting press releases, organizing media coverage and even asking a neighborhood lawyer about incorporating so the donations would be tax-deductible — are better known as Zack, Conor and Woody.
The three want other children to ask for donations instead of treats on Halloween, and they plan to turn the money over to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. The fund, chaired by former President Clinton and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, will assist the families of those who were killed or injured during the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Efforts like `Halloween for Heroes’ inspire us all,” said Clinton in a statement after his office learned of the boys’ effort.
“The wonderful children who are organizing this special event should know that, thanks to them, children who have been hurt by this terrible tragedy will have the opportunity to receive the best education possible,” he said.
Woody Wiegmann said the boys settled on the ideas “because we were thinking about all of the ways that we could help, and we knew a lot of other kids who wanted to help.”
“In my school, there were a lot of kids who were really upset, we wanted to make them feel as if they made an impact,” said Woody, a student at St, John’s Episcopal School in Olney.
The events of Sept. 11 hit home for the boys, all of whom have family members who work in Washington or New York.
Woody’s older brother lives near the Pentagon, and knew people who were injured. Zack Beauchamp worried about his sister, a law student at Georgetown University and Conor Murphy was concerned for his father and sister, who both work in New York City. Conor’s sister saw the plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
The boys gathered with their moms for a brainstorming session, where Zack’s mother told them stories about trick-or-treating for donations for UNICEF when she was a kid. The boys thought of Halloween for Heroes, and immediately put their plan into action.
“Children feel things more than people think they do,” said Laura Murphy, Conor’s mother. She said organizing Halloween for Heroes gave the boys “something to feel very positive about.”
Zack said they hoped to get as many participants as possible. So they rallied their classmates, contacted other schools and set out on their bikes to distribute fliers.
They even announced their idea to the community at a town hall meeting, where they were applauded by Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda.
“I am so proud of these boys, who have committed their time and hard work to raise funds for the benefit of children who have suffered during this time of national tragedy,” said Morella. “Their efforts are an excellent way for young people in our community and across the country to get involved.”
Zack, an aspiring politician and student at Georgetown Day School in Washington, urged classmates at a student council meeting to participate. He said the reaction from students has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Donations — for those who no longer trick-or-treat — may be made out to Halloween for Heroes and sent to P.O. Box 12153, Silver Spring, Md., 20908-2153.