About 700 kids in Niagara-on-the-Lake will have no shortage of Halloween goodies this year.
The Town of NOTL, with the help of resident Maria Mavridis, the NOTL Public Library and a slew of area businesses, will be handing out packed goodie bags to kids all around town on Halloween.
The goodie bags contain donations from NOTL businesses that stepped up to help kids who will miss out on trick-or-treating this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mavridis, who has been helping to co-ordinate the goodie bags and delivery along with the town's communications staff members Lauren Kruitbosch and Beth Audet, said the response has been overwhelming.
She said the town got in touch with her to see if she could help spread the word about the project and bring in some community donations, as a lot more kids signed up than the town anticipated.
Originally the town had anticipated about 300 participants, but that quickly turned into 700.
She said she made one Facebook post, “and then just got overwhelmed with response.”
Businesses that donated to the goodie bags inlude the NOTL library, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Phil's Valu-mart, the Virgil Avondale, Riverview Cellars Winery, Reynolds and Regier Homes, Nancy Bailey of Engel & Volkers, Sentineal Carriages, Sally McGarr Realty and a long list of local residents.
She said there were so many donations that now every kid will get two goodie bags.
She said there's lots of variety, including bags of chips, mini chocolate bars, full-sized chocolate bars, pencils, erasers, plenty of candy and some healthier alternatives like Goldfish snacks, and coupons for free pancakes at the Sunset Grill.
The library is also including a copy of the book “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” in each package.
Mavridis said one of the things she keeps hearing from people is shock that there are so many kids in town.
“People forget that it's not a retirement town, right? There's a lot of young families here. We have four schools full of students.”
She said Virgil “seems to have a lot more” kids taking part, though there are deliveries going to all corners of NOTL.
Mavridis is humble in taking credit for her help.
“I know that everyone's reaching out to me and saying, 'Oh, this is amazing' but I have to remind everyone this was a town initiative, I just stepped in to help.”
She said it's been great to see the community support.
“Because you read so much negativity and, you know, people get on each other's nerves, but when it comes to the kids they always step up.”
One thing is certain, the kids who signed up won't be missing out on any treats.
When asked how it feels to see the community coming together, she recalled two years ago, when a Virgil family's house burned down and the community rallied together to help them.
“It was awesome,” Mavridis said. “So it continues — one community.”