After hours spent collecting, driving, sorting, labeling and making phone calls, senior Bailey McGuffey and her team of volunteers distributed Halloween costumes to underprivileged children at the Lord’s Diner as part of her senior capstone project.
McGuffey reached out to the Newman community and the Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Bishop Carroll and Cheney High Schools to help with the collection of new and gently used costumes. With the help of family, friends and the Wichita community, McGuffey successfully provided a costume for every child at both the north and south locations of the Lord’s Diner.
McGuffey said that her initial goal was to collect between 200 and 300 Halloween costumes, but after everything was said and done, people around the community had donated a grand total of 350 full costumes — not including a 40-gallon tote filled with wigs, masks, Halloween t-shirts and other partial pieces.
All costumes were organized by size, gender, gender neutral and accessories, and by the end of the night volunteers had handed out more than 150 costumes to families at the north location alone.
“Despite that the night was chaotic and a little overwhelming at times for our six volunteers, we were blessed to have a storage room to use for distribution,” McGuffey said.
As soon as the drive began, multiple families started filing in, McGuffey said.
“The best way for me to describe the costume drive was ‘too successful,’” said McGuffey. “We did not have quite enough volunteers for the amount of people we handed out costumes to, and it was difficult to have real interactions with people because we could not slow down the line. However, I am extremely grateful that we had enough costumes to hand out to the kids.”
While the family room at the Lord’s Diner was packed, several parents still went out of their way to hug McGuffey and other volunteers in order to express their appreciation. For many children, this was the first opportunity they were given to dress up for Halloween.
Newman sophomore Ellen Kurtzweil was one of six volunteers to hand out costumes at the south location of the Lord’s Diner on Oct. 28.
“For me, [the most rewarding part of the experience was] seeing the kids get excited and wanting to show their parents their new costumes,” said Kurtzweil. “You could tell it was the highlight of their day. It was also a unique volunteering experience because it was based on giving something fun that the child could enjoy and make memories with.”
McGuffey’s grandparents, Cathy and Harold Beedles, were familiar with the Lord’s Diner due to their previous volunteer work. However, they were flabbergasted by the number of kids who had not gone trick or treating or had Halloween costumes before. McGuffey said, “My grandparents were a huge help throughout the entire process. They helped with setup, tear down, volunteered both nights and loaded 10 bins that were completely filled with costumes into their car.”
McGuffey said she received incredible results from the Kapaun Mt. Carmel and Bishop Carroll communities when she reached out for help.
“[These high schools] are the true MVPs of the costume collection,” she said. “I had to go to Bishop Carroll five different times to collect costumes because so many were donated.”
Additionally, various members of the community reached out to McGuffey with donations for her costume drive, including a music teacher from McGuffey’s elementary school, the theatre director at Bishop Carroll and a parishioner from Blessed Sacrament who contributed five bags filled with costumes.
“It was very stressful, especially at the beginning when I wasn’t sure that I would collect enough costumes to distribute at both locations,” McGuffey said. “But as soon as I got the final count, I thought ‘Holy cow, I did it!’ I reached my goal, and people of the community truly pulled through to help me do so.”
After distributing costumes to children at both Wichita locations of the Lord’s Diner, about 100 costumes were left that will be placed into storage for the 2017 Halloween season. McGuffey said she hopes there will be a senior next year who will want to take on her capstone project as their own, tweak it and hopefully start a tradition.
“There is definitely a need for it,” McGuffey said. “I would love to pass at least part of the torch down and see future volunteers at the Lord’s Diner continue a yearly costume drive for kids.”