Giving in the Halloween spirit

Pumpkins at the North Carolina Farmers Market

By Makayla Cook

Normally, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the times that people give back to their communities. This year, Dr. Katie Otis’ class is challenging the WPU community to volunteer their time for Halloween, to bring joy and sweet treats to the Salvation Army Shelter for Women and Children.

On Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Honors Capstone class will be hosting a Trunk or Treat for the women and children residing in the shelter, and they are seeking volunteers to participate and donate candy. 

The Salvation Army is a nonprofit organization that “assists homeless families and those fleeing domestic violence,” according to the Salvation Army Carolinas website. The building itself, The Judy D. Zelnak Center of Hope, is described as “a place where weary souls can find rest, empty stomachs can find a warm meal, and families can find a home during difficult times.”

Since the emergence of COVID-19, they are only able to operate at 50% capacity. As a result, over 200 families are on the waiting list to be moved into the shelter. According to personnel from the shelter, they try to get families back on their feet and moved out of the shelter in nine months. However, with the hardships that the pandemic has imposed on the community, the shelter has been working with those individuals for longer.

Dr. Otis, head of the history program, guides students towards accomplishing the class’s goal to “start to tear down barriers of prejudice and fear and to replace them with bridges of understanding and collaboration.” 

In this case, they have been interacting with homeless individuals and dissecting their stories in an effort to help others throughout the community. 

The class is asking for donations of children and teen Halloween costumes to be given to the children of the shelter, along with individually wrapped bags of candy. Donations can be dropped off in the box by Dr. Otis’ office, located in Browne McPherson 204.

Makayla Cook, a senior communications major, and Alyssa Crowder, a senior business analytics major, are taking the lead on this event and encourage you to join them.

The Salvation Army is located six minutes from campus at 1863 Capital Blvd. Volunteers will meet outside of the shelter, in the parking lot, at 6:30 pm in order to prepare for the event. 

If you or someone that you know would like to volunteer for this event, please email Cook at All volunteers must have a car in order for the trunk to be decorated and children of the shelter to visit. Decorations and candy to distribute will be supplied by the class, with the help of WPU’s Student Government and Planning Association (SGPA).