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Project Pumpkin Promises Halloween Fun

October 27, 2009 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC) will open Norris University Center at Northwestern University to children Thursday, Oct. 29, for Project Pumpkin 2009, a late afternoon of Halloween candy, games and fun.

Trick-or-treating will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Norris Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. The event is open to the public and free for the children who participate.

Northwestern faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their children.

The youth attending Project Pumpkin are from Evanston and Chicago-area schools, community centers and social service organizations. This fall, those invited include families affiliated with Evanston/Skokie School District 65 schools and Evanston's Family Focus, the Robert Crown Community Center and the McGaw YMCA. Invitations also have been extended to Chicago's Centro Romero, the Hamdard Center and the Howard Area Community Center's Project JAM and Greensleeves after-school programs.

Project Pumpkin is an annual event sponsored by NCDC, a student-run group that seeks to engage in community building and development on Northwestern's Evanston campus and in surrounding communities.

Buses transport the children from after-school programs to Norris for the event. Many arrive dressed in their Halloween costumes. Nearly 1,200 kids attended Project Pumpkin last year.

Children aged 4 to 12 participate in a variety of activities, including braving the Haunted House, playing games and working on crafts. Student volunteers from nearly 50 student groups, on-campus residences and Greek organizations host activity booths, wear costumes and chaperone the youngsters around Norris.

Project Pumpkin was introduced in the late 1980s, and it continues to grow every year. It stands as one of the largest student-run community service projects at Northwestern.

School of Education and Social Policy juniors Alyssa Detwiler and Amanda Haase are the co-chairs of this year's event.

Last week, Project Pumpkin flyers were dropped off at 14 Evanston/Skokie School District 65 schools so they could be placed in folders to be taken home by the children, Detwiler said. District 65 families transport their own children to event.

For more information, visit the NCDC Web site at www.ncdcnorthwestern.org/.

Nathalie Rayter contributed to this article.