For refugees who have left their countries to flee violence and war, Halloween can be a traumatic holiday. One Utah organization is working to help these children and families have a fun and safe holiday experience.
Amy Dott Harmer is executive director of the Utah Refugee Connection. Her organization helps refugee communities access resources and works to educate the public about the needs and experiences of refugees.
“For the past couple of years, we have worked hard to help refugees families better understand Halloween,” Harmer said.
One way Harmer’s organization does this is by hosting a Halloween celebration for refugee families. The purpose of the event is to expose refugees to Halloween in a non-traumatic way.
“We don’t decorate with any skeleton, gory, creepy things because a lot of them seen those heartbreaking pictures in real life,” Harmer said.
In order to provide children costumes, Utah Refugee Connection hosts a costume drive. Harmer said if children have a costume, they are more likely to participate in community Halloween activities. It also helps them feel like they fit in during school celebrations.
“The really cute thing is you will frequently go to an apartment complex where there are refugee kids outside playing and they’ll have superman costume on and it’s not even Halloween,” Harmer said. “They continue to wear the princess costumes or their teenage mutant ninja costumes so it’s really fun to see that these become things that they like to wear and take on a different persona all the time.”
Costume donations are being accepted now from until October 24. For information on how to donate, visit the Utah Refugee Connection Facebook page.