During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, then 10-year-old Stephanie Masapollo was not happy when Gov. Chris Christie issued an executive order rescheduling Halloween for early November due to unsafe conditions.
At her age, Masapollo didn’t understand the danger much of the state was in because of high winds and heavy rain. Instead, she just wanted candy and to walk around in her costume.
But a conversation with her father about the Halloween change gave her a new perspective that resulted in a meaningful nonprofit to helps kids across the country.
“I got upset about it because I was only 10 years old,” Masapollo recalled. “But my dad talked to me and said, ‘Think about all the other kids that won’t be able to go trick-or-treating at all because they don’t have have any costumes anymore,’ because everything was destroyed in some places.”
That year, Masapollo and her father started to gather donations and purchase costumes to deliver to those in need along the shore after Hurricane Sandy, so her focus was on helping others rather than worrying about Halloween.
In the years since, Masapollo, with the help of her parents, launched the nonprofit “Costumes for Kids,” and she continues to collect donations each year to be delivered to the needy.
This October, Masapollo, now a senior at Washington Township High School, collected and donated costumes to J.W. Lilley Elementary School in Gloucester Township so students could participate in the school’s first Trunk-or-Treat event on Oct. 24.
According to Lilley Principal Angela Rose-Bounds, Masapollo has been a big help for the school over the past few years by providing students with costumes.
“She was a springboard for the event; she’s been donating costumes to us for three years now,” Rose-Bounds said. “Every year, it’s about 50 or more costumes. Typically, we give them out during the school day on Halloween, but because parents and the community have wanted to be involved in a Halloween activity over the years, we had the Trunk-or-Treat … We invited [Masapollo] over the week before Halloween to fit students early so (they) can have the costumes for any other Halloween events they might go to this season.”
Rose-Bounds said because of Masapollo’s donation, word spread around the community, leading to more donations from parents and community members to help even more students. The help that Masapollo was able to give students’ parents, Rose-Bounds said, is remarkable.
“During seasons like this, so many families have so many financial obligations to worry about,” Rose-Bounds said. “Knowing that a costume is one less thing that they have to pay for can take the weight off a parent’s shoulders and allow the kid to just be a kid.”
Having now completed her eighth year of collecting donations for students, Masapollo says the experience has helped her communicate with others while also learning how to run a nonprofit. With her high school career coming to an end, she plans to continue “Costumes for Kids” after graduation.
To contribute to Masapollo’s mission, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.