Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Service Reflection: Gonzaga Scares Hunger

Rewind ten years or so. It's Halloween, and the sounds of screeching children, myself included, screaming "trick-or-treat," to every grown up or door in the vicinity. My arms practically go limp after hour two or three hours of this nature, running around the neighborhood screaming "trick-or-treat" all the while receiving sweet gratification. Then its a few years later, and suddenly as I walk up to houses in my Alice in Wonderland dress with my squad of about 17 other 13 year olds, the gratification I receive as a result of my "trick or treat" is accompanied by slightly concerned looks questioning my social competency, "aren't you too old for this?" 

It did not come as a surprise to me, therefore, that I was greeted with some reluctance every time I was greeted with an up and down look of confusion as my Spokane neighbors opened the door to find a fully grown 19 year old standing at their door decked out head-to-toe in a minion onesie this Halloween. Yes, it was awkward. But when one of my group members or I mentioned that we were trick-or-treating for canned foods for Campus Kitchen, the awkward tension melted into kindness. Not one house that opened the door to my group and let us walk away empty handed. One woman respectfully listened to my little speech about how we were trick-or-treating for cans and when I was finished, she practically threw the candy bowl at me with enthusiasm and told me that we "needed to take candy because we were her first trick-or-treaters all night." She then proceeded to make more than one trip to her pantry giving us all of the cans that she could carry. Another family allowed me to stand in their doorway and pet their puppy as they gathered cans for Campus Kitchen. 

The kindness of the Spokane community returned Halloween to its childhood glory in my mind. Trick-or-treating is a way for a community to connect, and open their doors to each other and share. It seems more fun when those community members at your door are three feet tall and decked out in costume, and a candy the size of a penny gives them the satisfaction of wining the lottery, but it was a lot of fun to witness a more humbling side of Halloween. When people realized that a group of Gonzaga students chose to trick-or-treat for cans on the biggest party night of the year, it was immensely satisfying to witness their pleasant surprise. 

I witnessed many dramatic perspective changes as people admitted to me, "I thought you were just hitting up houses for candy on the way to the bars," which (side note) I found amusing at the thought of me showing up to a bar in a minion onesie. As people realized that we were trick-or-treating for food for the hungry, they were excited to help. My theory is that they were surprised to find college students going out of their way on one of the biggest party nights of the year to make the Holliday something more than satisfying a craving (or cravings).  I felt proud to represent Gonzaga, and college students in general as more than the social stigmas make us out to be. And I was proud to represent Setons as my group members looked up to me and gave me a leadership role that threw me out of my comfort zone. I knew as a leader I had to be the one to step up and do the talking on behalf of the group if no one else was willing. My group seemed shy at first to ask people for cans, but then they all got excited when they realized how rewarding it was to witness the change of hearts of many of the community members first-hand. 

Ciara and Spike before the rally at Crosby!

- Ciara Costanzo
Seton of Gonzaga

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