MISSOULA — One thing we learned when we recently visited the Spirit Halloween store in Missoula is that every Halloween the emphasis is not necessarily on the "trick" but the "treat" when it comes to children in need in western Montana.
Each Halloween season, "Spirit" stores around the country raise money for local children's hospitals. The Missoula store is seeking donations from customers to help out the Montana Children's Medical Center in Kalispell.
In addition, store owners contribute funds and merchandise donations. The gifts are then used to purchase things like puppets to explain surgery to younger kids, iPads to keep the older kids entertained, and other tools to help make the experience less scary.
Spirit Halloween owner Melanie Lerum says participating in the fund-raiser puts everything in perceptive.
“When we see these happy healthy children here buying costumes it's nice to remember those who may not be as fortunate to be out trick or treating,” Lerum said. “That sort of puts things in perspective. If you are a little bit bummed you aren't going to go out with a big suitcase of candy but also, you're not in the hospital either.
The "Spirit of Children" program has been going on nationwide for 14 years and has raised more than $65 million. This year the goal for the Missoula store is $9,000.