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Safe Halloween scares up amusements for community

by Remi Levoff
USC Topping scholar Erik Estrada helps neighborhood children craft ghostly magnets. (Photo/Tandia Elijio)
USC Topping scholar Erik Estrada helps neighborhood children craft ghostly magnets. (Photo/Tandia Elijio)

USC’s Norman Topping Student Aid Fund (NTSAF) scholars volunteered, as they do each year, to give back to the local community in the spirit of a Safe Halloween on Oct. 31. The students transformed Hoover Recreation Center into a spooky venue attraction with a haunted house, arts and crafts tables, inflatable bounce houses and goody bags for all.

Free to local families seeking a fun and safe alternative for their children on Halloween night, the carnival attracted a record-setting 2,500 attendees this year, according to Christina Yokoyama, director of NTSAF.

“It was nice to see and hear that people have been coming to our Safe Halloween for multiple years,” she said about the program the Norman Topping scholars have hosted for more than 15 years. “They look forward to staying close to home and enjoying such a large event.”

Wendy Salvador, a mother of two children, attended the event for the second year in a row. Her 4-year-old daughter dressed as Tinkerbell and her 3-year-old son was a firefighter.

“We came last year, and I just loved it,” she said. “More importantly, my kids looked forward to it this year.”

Just like many families in the surrounding community, the Salvadors were drawn to the event because of its proximity and safety.

“We live right off Vermont, so [the carnival] is convenient and safe to walk to,” Salvador said.

The Halloween festivities are equally fun for the NTSAF volunteers. Erik Estrada, a freshman in charge of a Halloween magnet-making table, lit up when he explained what giving back to the community means to him.

“It’s so much fun,” he said. “I volunteered a lot during high school, so it’s a great feeling to be able to [do so] in college.”

 

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