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The Teal Pumpkin Project Helps Kids With Food Allergies Go Trick Or Treating

In 2012, Becky Basalone from Tennessee had a radical thought: what if she could make Halloween better for kids with food allergies? Her idea became the Teal Pumpkin Project, a nationwide initiative that encourages families to offer non-food treats to trick or treaters on Halloween.

Participating in the project is simple. Interested families just place a teal-colored pumpkin or a sign on their door, and offer kids things like glow sticks, stickers, and other items instead of, or alongside, regular candies, USA Today reports.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), a non-profit organization, first endorsed the idea in 2014 by creating a viral Facebook post. In 2015, around a million people flocked to the group’s website for information and some 10,000 put their homes on an interactive map that showed teal pumpkin locations, FARE says.

This year, FARE aims to have “a home on every block in America with a teal pumpkin.” Nancy Gregory, senior director of communications says, “We hope it becomes a new Halloween tradition.”

FARE has partnered with commercial products, licensing the Teal Pumpkin Project products like foam pumpkins and painting kits for sale at places like CVS, Party City, Oriental Trading Company, and Michael’s. For every purchase, FARE gets a percentage to fund its research, education and advocacies.

Parents whose kids have allergies to nuts and eggs welcome the idea.

Michelle Oganov of New Jersey says her daughter can’t eat peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. Before the Teal Pumpkin Project, there was nothing the little girl could keep from the hoard she’d collected. But now, she can have the things those from the project give out at their homes.

Natalie Wilensky of Maryland says that for her part, participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project means teaching her son to think of others and empathize with their plight.

Other recommendations from FARE for non-food trick or treat items are bracelets and necklaces, whistles, noisemakers and kazoos, bubbles, playing cards, pencils and pens, erasers, bouncy balls, bookmarks and novelty items like vampire fangs. They tell parents to put candy and non-food items in separate bowls, and offer both to kids.

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