Friday, October 24, 2014

Trick or Treat Extravaganza provides fun for area families and service-learning opportunity for OU-C students

By OU-C public relations student writer Megan Valentine

On Oct. 31, area families will fill the Shoemaker Center gym for an evening of Halloween activities during the ninth annual Trick or Treat Extravaganza (TOTE). However, for members of Ohio University-Chillicothe’s Human Services Association (HSA) student club, the event is about much more than spooky fun. The event lasts from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Details are available online at http://www.oucnewsblog.com/2014/10/trick-or-treat-extravaganza-scheduled_9.html

As an organization, HSA aims to engage members by offering opportunities to aid social service agencies, organize fundraisers, educate others and raise awareness about local issues. The students also develop a variety of skills through their involvement including networking, group work, professional ethics and problem solving.

“It is one thing to talk about goal setting, decision making and interventions in class; it is yet another experience to see the work of the students in action and knowing they will go forward in life with deeply ingrained skills and the knowledge of how to help diverse people. We have watched students mentor each other, support great causes and have fun learning,” Human Services Technology program coordinator Barbara Mahaffey said of the students’ experiences.

TOTE, in particular, offers both HSA members and those in attendance the chance to experience hands-on service learning. Donations of canned goods for the Good Samaritan Network and gently used clothing for the Children's Clothing Bank are highly encouraged. Some OU-C students will be hosting safety demonstrations, and others will be helping community organizations, social service agencies and elected officials pass out free candy to the children in a safe environment.

In addition to supplying bounce houses, arts and crafts, face painting, games, prizes and candy for families who may not be able to take their children door to door for Trick or Treat, TOTE offers an accessible environment for many disabled children and adults who depend on this event as a means to celebrate the holiday.

Students involved with the planning of TOTE and other HSA-sponsored events place great value on the deeper meaning behind their work.

“Knowing you are helping people who may otherwise be forgotten is extremely gratifying. It's one thing to go to school, work and live in Chillicothe. It's a whole other thing to actually know, talk with and smile with the people within our community,” said president Joanna Graham.

“Giving back and being part of organizations that raise funds and host events strengthens the community as a whole. All HSA students not only experience the joy of giving back to the community, but many learn great skills and gain self-esteem along the way,” added Graham.

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