This Central Minnesota Woman Is Making Sure Everyone Has A Great Halloween
TRICK OR TREATING ON THE SPECTRUM
Kristin Hilsgen has a son named Jackson. Her wonderful son was diagnosed with Autism when he was just two years old. Jackson is non-verbal and is delayed in most areas. Kristin shared with me that as Jackson grew up, Jackson always seemed to have some difficulties around the holidays. Take, for example, Halloween. Trick or Treating for most kids is a fun experience. Dressing up in costumes; the scares; the candy. For Jackson and many other kids on the spectrum, not so much.
You can listen to our interview with Kristin below.
Jackson didn’t like wearing costumes because it caused him some sensory issues. Since he is non-verbal, Jackson is unable to say “Trick or Treat,” which made some home stops on trick-or-treat journeys feel a little awkward. There were many years when Kristin’s family cut trick-or-treating pretty short on many occasions.
Kristin thought; there had to be a better way. She started making treat bags for his ABA therapy class. (Applied Behavior Analysis). Northway Academy offers therapy for kids on the autism spectrum. Kristin just thought she would do something nice for the kids out of her own pocket at the time, not really thinking about what would happen next.
As each year went by, Kristin started trying to make each treat bag a little better, and eventually add all of the Northway Academy kids in the area.
Since those early days, the gift of giving has turned into a fundraising effort, and Kristin just asks people to drop off candy at her work. Slowly, Kristin and her family started adding more places to donate.
Last year, Kristin and those who wanted to help created around 700 treat bags, and were able to reach a lot of people.
If you would like to help make this amazing fundraiser even bigger, you can help. There is an Amazon Wish List, as well as a Venmo and Paypal account where you can set up donations for the treat bag project. If someone who wants to help doesn’t like those options, you are welcome to drop off candy for the project as well.
NOTE: If you want to send candy, please avoid products and goods that contain items like peanuts as we want to avoid common allergies.
How long does it take to assemble the treat bags? Kristin says right now she assembles the bags about 2 weeks before the Halloween holiday, so the bag can be distributed to those who need them before the holiday.
Kristin says she is also always open to donating to new places if anyone has a location in mind.
Some exciting news. The House of Pizza said that they would offer both of their locations as Drop-Off locations if you’d like to donate candy to the cause.
If you would like to make a donation or have a location that would benefit from receiving treat bags, please contact Kristin at knh7215 @gmail.com.