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Okotoks' Westmount students treated to filling a need

Grade 4 to 6 students donate 700 pounds of non-perishable goods to Okotoks Food Bank in unique Halloween reversal

Students at Westmount School started a legacy on Halloween that is a treat to the community.

“The kids were looking at our community and wondering how can we help,” said Westmount School Grade 4 teacher Graham Campbell. “One of the things our students said they wanted to be remembered for was to the helpful and kind.”

So there were packs of Westmount Wolves from Grades 4 to 6 — walking to Okotoks Food Bank donation boxes at Sobeys, Safeway and the Okotoks Natural Food Store on Oct. 31 to drop off food items and accessories for what was called a “Reverse Trick or Treat” — the young trick-and-treaters were the ones handing out the treats.

These weren’t treats of the Mars bar variety, it was maybe a can of beans, tuna or rolls of toilet paper.

“The kids talked about needs and wants,” said Campbell, who wore a honey of a Winnie the Pooh costume. “Candy was definitely a want, not a need. So filling out a need for our community, they deemed more helpful than filling a want.”

Turns out it was something the students wanted to do and they enjoyed it.

Grade 4 student Elizabeth Hayhurst, who was dressed up as Toothless from How To Train a Dragon, was glad to start her Halloween by giving rather than retrieving a candy bar.

“Halloween is 'give me, give me, give me,'” Elizabeth said. “We donated food and things that people might need – toilet paper, toothpaste.

“A want is something that you want to have, but a need is something you need to survive.”

Grade 4 student Mason Sharpe said the students want to be remembered “as the class that helps people and gives stuff.”

He said the reverse Halloween was a good start.

“We donating to the food bank and they are going to think of us as a helpful school because we’re donating so much food,” Mason said who was wearing a Durr Burger from Fortnite costume. “It makes me feel really good because we’re giving needs so people can survive.”

Pamela McLean, Okotoks Food Bank executive director didn’t see a Durr Burger, Toothless, a Woody from Toy Story, Santa or some of the other outfits among the Westmount crowd.

She saw a giant heart with a big brain.

“I continue to be blown away by how forward thinking our young people are,” McLean said. “I have never heard of a Reverse Halloween — I have heard of a Reverse Christmas.

“I am not at all surprised. Okotoks is such an innovative community and when the Grade 4 teacher Mr. Campbell contacted me I thought. ‘There you go. Another wonderful initiative from our community.'”

The classes donated approximately 700 pounds of non-perishables, and $20 in grocery gift cards.

“Incredible to think that they carried all of this,” she said.

The classes that participated were led by teachers Liv Jacks, Jesse Keller, Diane Schneider, Karen McWhirter, Ava Kinzel, Emily Vandebeek and Campbell.


Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact
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