All treats, no tricks for child collecting for the needy

For 9-year-old Nina Pantaleone, trick-or-treating has taken on a whole new meaning.

She still goes door-to-door on Halloween and still collects food, but not the sweet treats that many of her friends are getting.
Pantaleone, a Marlton resident, collects canned goods and foods to donate to the St. Vincent De Paul Society in Medford.

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The St. Vincent de Paul Society collects food and other donations for the poor and needy all year round. With Thanksgiving and other big holidays approaching, Pantaleone’s timing for donating a ton of food is perfect.

“I just like helping out people that don’t have any food,” Pantaleone said.

This isn’t the first year Pantaleone has done this project. She first started this after her parents encouraged her to do something for others on Halloween a few years ago.

“We started talking about it one day because we were reading a story in Highlights magazine that a girl in the Midwest was doing that,” Nina Pantaleone’s father, Anthony Pantaleone, said.

What became a one-year project for Pantaleone was repeated the following Halloween and again this year.

“We did the first year and second year. This year she totally initiated it herself,” Anthony said. “She wanted to print the flyers herself.”

Anthony said his daughter’s mission to collect food for St. Vincent De Paul has become well-known in their community. Nina makes and delivers flyers announcing that she will be collecting food on Halloween a few weeks before the event. She doesn’t just drop the flyers in the mailbox, though. She hands them out, door-to-door, to better promote the cause and what she wants to do.

“I had to type the flyer up the week before and then deliver the flyers,” Nina said.

“It started out as a can of soup or a box of chocolate,” Anthony said. “Since then, it has turned into our neighbors showing more and more support.”

The Pantaleones are members of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Marlton. After the food is collected, they drop off the bags in the gathering space the following weekend.

The parish sends the bags to the St. Vincent de Paul Society location in Medford. The Medford location distributes the food to needy people throughout the area, including Medford Township.

This year, the Pantaleone family had about eight bags of groceries just on the food collected by Nina alone. Nina said some people who weren’t home on Halloween even left bags out front for her to take.

Nina hopes one day that others will follow her lead and do something for others on Halloween.

“Yeah, I know other kids don’t do it,” she said. “But I hope some day other kids might do it.”

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