Maybe. Let’s face it – this holiday has been heavily commercialized for years and, increasingly, is more often an opportunity for adults to party than a chance for kids to be kids.

So it’s interesting to look at how some Junior Leagues have worked hard to refocus Halloween – whether as a way of involving kids who might be left out because of illness or economic status, or as a way to bring kids and their parents together in safe and fun activities that emphasize the value of coming together as a community. And, always of interest to us, it’s nice to see Halloween celebrations as a way of emphasizing the importance of voluntarism in creating and maintaining the health of our communities.

For example, the Junior League of New Orleans works with the Freret Neighborhood Center, which serves the residents of the Uptown neighborhoods of Freret and Milan, and ricRACK, a unique organization dedicated to teaching costuming and sewing arts as a way of preserving New Orleans culture, JLNO members and their children collect gently used clothing and costumes to ensure that every child has a costume to wear on Halloween at the 2013 Great Halloween Costume Giveaway Party. Now in its 7th year, the Costume Giveaway Party costumed an estimated 500 kids at the 2012 event!

The big Halloween event sponsored by the Junior League of Louisville is designed to put a smile on the faces of kids with cancer. You might say that’s a tall order, but JLL’s funding of Gilda’s Club Louisville and its annual Noogiefest does just that in a JLL-hosted event featuring kid-friendly activities, a safari show, face painting, crafts, food and more. JLL support of Gilda’s Club Louisville has expanded to support programs for people affected by cancer, including Gilda’s Youth Program and a Mother-Daughter Tea, as well as dinners for support groups.

Halloween at the Junior League of Greater Orlando combines a race to end world hunger with a just-for-kids run with a post-race party for adults and children. The JLGO’s Halloween Hustle 5K kicks off the event along with the Community Based Care of Central Florida Kids’ Fun Run. And it all ends up with a party with Halloween-themed games and activities in Baldwin Park in downtown Orlando. Costumes for all – including the runners – are strong encouraged!

A 5K run (fitness walkers also welcome!) is also the central attraction of the 14th annual Pumpkins in the Park event sponsored by the Junior League of Central & North Brevard. The event includes a Lil’ Pumpkins Race for children followed by a Halloween costume contest, prizes, giveaways and more. The Junior League of Central & North Brevard, in partnership with Share Our Strength, is also hosting a bake sale to help reduce the number of hungry children in their community.

Looking to provide healthy Halloween alternatives, the Junior League of Norman will sponsor its 7th Annual Monster Dash, with a 5K for runners and a 1-mile run/walk for individuals and families. Also on tap are contests for best children’s costume, best adult costume, and best group costume as well as arts and crafts activities for the kids.

Different programs…same idea. Halloween is about more than just candy!

What is your Junior League doing for Halloween? Post an update on our Facebook page.