In anticipation of Halloween, several campus organizations are working to give back including the Texas State Terry Scholars. They’ve partnered with the PODER Learning Center on events and classes for children this year.
The scholars are a part of the Terry Foundation formed by Howard and Nancy Terry. Their goal is to give back to the students of Texas through a scholarship so undergraduates could graduate with absolutely no student debt. Terry Scholars are students who possess qualities of academic excellence and leadership. The organization is dedicated to community service and has become an integral part of helping the campus and the San Marcos community.
During the Halloween season, the Terry Scholars give back to the city of San Marcos by partnering with the PODER Learning Center to organize Halloween themed activities for children.
The center is located within the Allen Woods section of the San Marcos Housing Authority.Itserves as a community center for residents who live in the Allen Woods Homes as well as an after-school learning center for children.
Maria Calcaben, resident services coordinator at the PODER Learning Center, said the center exists to build a safer community, especially during the holiday season.
“The importance of having something like the PODER Center here is to help build a stronger community and safer community and also provide a central location for resources people might need to help them get to a better place in their life,” Calcaben said.
The center recently organized a zombie apocalypse-themed night in anticipation for Halloween. Nia Pierce, service chair for the Terry Scholars, said the event was themed to allow the kids to enjoy Halloween while learning first-aid and teamwork skills.
“They try to have some type of theme that is related to life and not just the event,” Pierce said.
Dressed as zombies, the Terry Scholars taught the children about teamwork as they were encouraged to work together to participate in a scavenger hunt. The kids had to find items to help them survive without being caught by a zombie.
They also organized trick-or-treating and a haunted house. They take the kids in the after-school program to Springtown Villa, an apartment complex for senior citizens and those living with disabilities, to trick or treat with the residents and participate in inter-generational activities.
After trick-or-treating, the kids are brought back to the center where they can participate in a haunted house. There are also little games available for the children to participate in. Children living in the neighborhood are invited to come.
“A lot of what we do is volunteer-based, even setting up the haunted house. That usually takes all day. Tearing down as well and cleaning up, the volunteers help with that,” Calcaben said,
Kathy Israel, Terry Scholar and resident of the Allen Woods community, said she enjoys what the scholars do because it benefits everyone, including children who may not get to trick or treat otherwise
“It’s basically just to give the kids an outlet so that they can enjoy the basics of life. Not every kid gets to go trick-or-treating, not every kid has that chance to go to a haunted house. It’s giving the kids an opportunity to be together and have fun and have something positive in their lives.”
The Halloween event is an annual tradition locals and children can look forward to for next year’s holiday season.