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Kids With Food Allergies Get Alternative Option for Enjoying Halloween

Trick-or-treat will be observed in municipalities throughout the county from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 31. Instead of the traditional door-to-door search for treats, Northwest Emergency Medical Services is offering an alternative at its facilities in Elizabethtown and Manheim. The emergency services provider is participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, offering a no-food alternative for children with food allergies or sensitivities.

“Food allergies are prevalent in our society. It’s not just nuts; some people have a reaction to items made with gluten, milk, or eggs. The goal of our event is to allow kids to experience the joy and tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween, to normalize their lives,” explained Lori Shenk, Northwest EMS community outreach manager. “Some parents are also concerned about the amount of sugar their kids may have if they go door-to-door trick-or-treating, so everyone is welcome at our event.”

Each child attending the Teal Pumpkin event will receive an allergy-free toy and coloring book, as well as an opportunity to select an item from a trick-or-treat bucket. Information about Northwest EMS outreach projects and brochures from FARE about food allergies will be available for parents.

Trick-or-Treat is also about costumes. Volunteers at the event will be costumed, and Shenk said some Northwest EMS staff may also dress up.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a nationwide endeavor of FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). Shenk said she learned about the initiative last year, but it was too close to Halloween to coordinate an event.

“All of the community outreach programs that we host have an educational focus,” she said. “We promote health and safety.”

Shenk pointed out that FARE’s website, foodallergy.org, is packed with information about food allergies. A like to the organization’s Teal Pumpkin Project also allows access to an interactive map that shows homes and organizations participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

She reached out to area businesses for support of the project. Ben Burkholder, a Bainbridge farmer, donated 35 pumpkins and two bales of straw to be used as decorations. WellSpan Family Medicine Manheim provided coloring books, while Union Community Bank donated piggy banks. A number of other businesses donated funds toward the project.

While the Teal Pumpkin Project event is new this year for Northwest EMS, Shenk said the organization plans to continue its tradition of distributing candy in residential areas.

“A number of businesses donate candy for us to distribute. We appreciate those donations,” she said, “Our staff uses the candy distribution as a way of getting to know residents and offering them a peek at the inside of an ambulance.”

Anyone who wants more information about the Northwest EMS Teal Pumpkin Project event, may contact Lori Shenk at 717-371-8282.

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