July 12, 2024

The Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement will be hosting its eighth annual “Make a Difference Day Halloween Festival” at Wittenberg for local Springfield children on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Children ages 3-12 will be able to partake in Halloween-related activities on Wittenberg’s campus between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. as part of the Hagen Center’s contribution to National Make a Difference Day. Each participating group can choose any type of service project that seems fit for the surrounding area.
“It is just a unique event that kids in the Springfield area wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to partake in,” said senior Jess Coggins, one of the principle event coordinators.
As usual, the festival will be held for Wittenberg’s partner schools: Lincoln Elementary, Snowhill Elementary, and Lagonda Elementary.
However, changes will be made to the event this year, such as a cap of 240 children instead of 200. For the first time, the Hagen Center has also partnered with Champion City Comic Con for the event.
“We have been talking about partnering with an organization in the past, and we’re really excited that it is finally happening,” said Coggins. “We really went to make it more interesting for the kids.”
Comic Con will mostly take part in the festival’s reading activity, giving each child a comic book to take home.
Other activities such as face painting, a pipe cleaner pumpkin craft, a bean bag toss, pumpkin painting, and “trunk-or-treat” will require Wittenberg student volunteers, according to Coggins.
In years past, over 100 Wittenberg students have volunteered, either to lead a group of kids to the different activities, man an activity station, or pass out candy for “trunk-or-treat.” With more children participating in the event, Coggins expects there to be even more volunteers this year.
“One of the best parts about the festival is that there is always a lot of student involvement,” said Coggins.
Most of the activities will be set up in Wittenberg’s student center, except for “trunk-or-treat”, which will be held in the Krieg parking lot.
As part of “trunk-or-treat,” campus organizations, Greek life organizations, and athletic teams will dress up and pass out candy from the trunks of volunteered cars. At the end of “trunk-or-treat,” each child also receives a boxed lunch to go.
“A lot of the kids don’t always get a full meal, and the boxed lunches are really appreciated by the parents,” said Coggins.
Jess Coggins, senior Emily Bermes, and junior Beth Hubbard began planning the event as soon as the 2013-2014 school year began. Coggins is in charge of coordinating the activities, Bermes is in charge of recruiting Wittenberg students to volunteer, and Hubbard is in charge of registering kids from Wittenberg’s partner schools to participate.
Coggins said that the trio has really worked hard these last couple of weeks, and they hope that the festival gives the kids the opportunity to not only get up and moving around, but also to be creative.

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