HUGHESVILLE – Home for Jason is different than home for most kids — he lives with his mother and four siblings in Angel’s Watch Shelter, a nondescript, one-story building at the crossroads that is this rural Charles County town.
But Halloween is the same for every kid. So Jason spent the last week running up and down the halls of the shelter in a fuzzy green costume, telling people he was going to be a monster for Halloween.
“He kept it on for a week, even went to bed with it,” said his older brother Josh, who dressed in a college cap and gown for a Halloween party at the shelter.
At shelters across the state this week, directors and community groups made sure that their youngest residents had plenty of candy and costumes during Halloween.
The children who live at the Angel’s Watch Shelter have been celebrating for over a week by painting pumpkins, playing games, and much to their mothers’ chagrin, eating lots of candy. On Wednesday night, the children were treated to a McDonald’s Happy Meal and showed off costumes that included a cheerleader, a construction worker and the Grim Reaper.
“It’s hard enough to live in a shelter, they should not want for something,” said Stephanie Dalpra, the executive director of the Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center in Bel Air.
Tonight, the children who live in her shelter will knock on doors of the seven bedrooms in the facility and go trick-or-treating with candy provided by a community group, Dalpra said. Then, the women in the shelter will host a party for the children with punch, cake and dinner.
In preparation for the party, the children decorated common areas with fake spider webs and cutouts of witches, she said.
The Frederick Community Action Agency will take its kids trick-or-treating at the Francis Scott Key Mall, while the House of Ruth in Baltimore will host a party at the center for the kids, who will dress up in costumes donated by community members.
For shelters like hers, that house children who come from abusive homes, Dalpra said tonight’s activities will be one of the few times they will be able to show their excitement.
“In a battered relationship, kids are expected to contain themselves,” she said. “Maybe they can celebrate this year without being perfect angels. They’ll get to laugh and be kids.”
Cozanne Boone, a teacher for the child development program at the House of Ruth, agreed.
“The holiday is kind of good for them,” Boone said. “For one night, they’re not worrying about mommy or their situation at home.”
At Angel’s Watch, the moms who were interviewed said are glad that community groups are getting involved for Halloween. Not all would talk, and the shelter did not give last names or ages for any of the residents.
“It’s a good thing that people are going out of their way to do this,” said Marsha, Josh and Jason’s mom.
But she also had the same Halloween concerns as many moms — for the past week, she has been dealing with five sugared-up kids.
“There’s just too much candy,” she said Wednesday, as the week’s worth of holiday events at the shelter was nearing a close. “Halloween is supposed to be a one-day event.” -30- CNS 10