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Parents chip in to make Halloween memorable in Hamilton

By Don Fennell

Published 5:01 PDT, Fri October 30, 2020

Last Updated: 12:11 PDT, Sat October 31, 2020

In neighbourhoods like Hamilton, where agriculture continues to be a community identifier, one of the longstanding traditions is celebrating Halloween at the pumpkin patch. But in the age of the coronavirus, that simply wasn’t deemed safe this year for students at the local elementary school.

So on Friday—the day before trick or treating—the pumpkin patch was delivered to the kids.

In a strong display of camaraderie and co-operation that helps define a community, Hamilton residents, parents and local businesses teamed up to make this Halloween as memorable—and joyful—as any previous.

“This year has been very challenging from the start, especially for the kids,” says Mark McCallum, entering his second year as principal at Hamilton elementary. “We thought it would be a fun thing to do, adding to (the kids) coming to school dressed up in their costumes.”

McCallum reached out through his regular school newsletter to parents to thank them for their support.

“They’re not allowed to come into the school right now because of COVID-19, and thus have had a to make a number of adjustments,” he explains. “But, they’ve really stepped up. A great example was this morning, when some parents showed to help staff unload the pumpkins when they arrived.”

McCallum worked closely with the school’s parent advisory council (PAC) chair Angie Liu, who fearing the project might not come to fruition, stepped up her efforts by seeking the support of local businesses.

“When it looked like we might have a shortage of pumpkins, I started phoning all the farms and sourced out 300 to be delivered to our school,” Liu explains. “And when we need wheelbarrows, a local landscaper, RVS Landscaping, dropped them off for us. And parents stepped up to volunteer. We were determined to make it happen, and I (was) maybe more excited than the kids.”

The Richmond location of Sweden-based appliance manufacturer Dometic also contributed funds to the project. The Richmond location is the Marine Division of Dometic, which manufactures steering parts for boats.

McCallum says enhancing community relations has been a focus of the school district for the last several years.

“We feel very strongly about the partnership between teachers and parents,” he says. “We know how much it can benefit a child’s success in school, so we absolutely emphasize trying to keep that alive during this time of COVID-19. And our teachers have a done a great job reaching out to parents via Zoom or through phone calls, making sure they know what’s going on.”

For Liu, Friday’s collaborative effort to ensure her children and their friends had a special day was a reminder of what is truly important.

“I know a lot of kids were feeling down, or not old enough to understand, and people worried about COVID-19 and that Halloween wouldn’t be the same,” she says. “I feel really proud of our community. It’s kind of like God slowing us down and taking note of what’s important around us.”

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