SYCAMORE – Like a lot of children, Susana Martin likes Halloween.
“You get to dress up in funny costumes and get lots of candy,” the 9-year-old from Sycamore said.
Susana, a fourth grader at North Grove Elementary, likes Halloween so much she started her own charity, The Halloween Costume Club.
“She started the club because she wanted kids in DeKalb County, who maybe can’t afford a costume, to have the opportunity to choose Halloween costumes,” her mother, Jeanette Martin, said. “She felt that Halloween, a kid-centered holiday, is always overlooked by charities. She said no one does anything for Halloween, just Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
From Sept. 22 through Oct. 12, costume collection bins will be at the Northern Illinois Dance Center, 2180 Oakland Drive in Sycamore; the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, 2500 Bethany Road in DeKalb; Feed’Em Soup, 122 S. First St. in DeKalb; and the Sycamore Public Library. People can donate new or gently-used Halloween costumes and accessories in the bins. All ages and sizes will be accepted. The Martins also will collect costumes at the YMCA’s Super Hero 5K run on Sept. 28.
“I anticipate we’ll get quite a few costumes,” said Katrina Luetkebuenger, associate executive director at the YMCA. She said many people have closets full of old Halloween costumes their kids can’t wear anymore. “When we have Toys for Tots, our bins are overflowing.”
Jeanette Martin said she will collect the donations, which she and her daughter will wash and sort. Susana’s father, Steve, her brother, Daniel, and at least one family friend will help.
“We don’t know if we’ll get 50 or 500,” Jeanette said. “I’m hoping for a lot of new costumes so I don’t have to wash them.”
Starting Oct. 9, kids in need can choose a costume during Wednesday night dinner services at Feed’Em Soup. Costumes will also be donated to children living at Safe Passage and Hope Haven, and will be distributed to YMCA scholarship families on Oct. 20.
Residential family advocate Emily Aberson at Safe Passage said they will tell the Martins how many boys and girls costumes they need, and which sizes.
Susana said she got the idea for the club from an article about a similar project in Highlights magazine.
“She always wants to do something for other kids,” her mother said. “We’ve tried to get them involved in other (charitable) events so they can appreciate what they have, but this is the first time we’ve ever taken on something by ourselves.”
“It’s a good idea,” said Daniel, 7.
So far, the club has seven costumes, all donated by Susana and Daniel. In the past, Susana has dressed up as an American Girl, a “Despicable Me” minion, Minnie Mouse and an ice cream cone. Her mother made most of the costumes.
Susana likes last year’s minion the best, she said, because “it was the funniest.” This year, the family plans to dress as characters from Harry Potter.