BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Susie Weeks lives in Melrose Place Subdivision, which is located off North Foster near Florida Boulevard. This is an older subdivision that is currently going through a revitalization.
With that, trick-or-treating is struggling. Many children show up wearing their school uniforms and carrying old grocery bags; many older residents do not give out candy because they can't afford to do so.
Susie often takes children in the neighborhood shopping for Halloween costumes at her own expense. She also provides candy for neighbors to give out during trick-or-treating.
Susie recognizes that neighborhood events like trick-or-treating help build stronger communities, so she sprang into action trying to help. She immediately joined the neighborhood association board and last year, she hosted a Halloween event in her very own driveway.
"We set up out here with the fire pit," Susie recalled of their first Melrose Halloween. "Two different neighbors, the lady across the street and the guy a door down, came and introduced themselves. They were two of the few giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. They introduced themselves and welcomed us to the neighborhood. And so, that's just a small example of how it [trick-or-treating] brings people together."
Kelley Stein, founder of the non-profit "10/31 Consortium" could not agree more.
"I realized people do not talk to each other at Halloween," Kelley told me. "In fact, they don't really talk to each other any other time either."
"I started realizing that Halloween, specifically trick-or-treat, is really a time for building communities and neighborhoods. And I looked around and the neighborhoods that have strong trick-or-treats are usually the safest neighborhoods. And, there's a direct correlation in my opinion that if you have a lot of neighborhood events like trick-or-treat, you've got neighbors that know each other; they're looking out for each other; they're taking care of one another," Kelly added.
Thus, her idea for the "10/31 Consortium," an organization dedicated to giving a happy and safe Halloween to the children of Baton Rouge. On its website, 10/31 has an application for trick-or-treat assistance. Susie completed the application for Melrose Place and was selected by 10/31 Consortium's "Costume & Candy Drive" beneficiary.
But Kelley went a step further. She nominated Susie for WAFB's Hand It On recognition as well. We tagged along as Kelley knocked on Susie's front door one afternoon.
"Hey, Susie! How are you? You're probably wondering what's going on. Well, you know I do 10/31 Consortium. We do the costume and candy drive for neighborhoods like yours. And I noticed all of the hard work that you're doing in Melrose Place and nominated you for WAFB's Hand It On award. So, I have $300 from WAFB to go towards all of your Trick-or-Treat goals!" Kelley said as she handed Susie three crisp, new one-hundred dollar bills.
"Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much!" a very surprised Susie Weeks responded.
Maybe ghosts and goblins really can bring a community together! Susie is a great example of a community leader and she's a true Hallo-Queen!
By the way, 10/31 Consortium is currently hosting a costume and candy drive. The beneficiaries are The Big Buddy Program and the Melrose Place subdivision. The are four drop off points throughout town: Violet Lotus Studio, Sherwood Dental Care, Aim Print & Ship, and Party Time. And you can drop a gently used or new costume or a bag of individually wrapped candy up until October 10.
If you want more information on 10/31, please go to www.1031Consortium.com.
And to nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On recognition, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information especially your phone number.