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Candy After Sandy: A Hopatcong Halloween Miracle

Kids get their chance to celebrate as hundreds attend party at high school shelter.

Hurricane Sandy may have forced the cancellation of Halloween, but for those who attended the party at Hopatcong High School on Sunday, the holiday spirit was still very much alive.

The school was filled with all smiles as dozens of kids celebrated at the high school shelter for a special Halloween party.

From costumes to candy, face painting and more, kids 12 and under got their chance to partake in Halloween activities and forget about everything going on outside that superstorm Sandy brought to the borough last week.

The party was organized by Hopatcong teachers, with the help of many donations of costumes, candy and crafts from locals as well as from people from different states across the northeast.

Teachers Danielle Kovach and Kristine Mendyk came up with the idea on Saturday to hold the party, and within 24 hours, they were able to pull off something great that brought hundreds together for a positive, community event during a time of devastation.

"To see everyone come together, it's amazing, it's absolutely amazing," Kovach said. "The teachers miss our kids and we want to do all that we can to help them, so we came to them."

Mendyk said she was happy to bring some joy into the kids' lives who have been living under the harsh conditions that the storm left the borough.

"The kids enjoyed themselves and got a chance to get out, have some fun and get out of their houses, and forget about what's going on for a minute," she said. "That's all we wanted."

Teachers have been helping out with the shelter everyday, reaching out for help and bringing in donations.

The shelter, which has been open since Monday night during Hurricane Sandy, has been growing each day. Through Red Cross volunteers, CERT members, and donations of food and supplies from all over the country, hundreds of residents have been able to find some comfort.

The majority of Hopatcong still remains without power, as JCP&L crews continue to work in the borough to clean up downed trees and wires to restore power.

Mayor Sylva Petillo, who has also been at the shelter every day, checking in on residents and cooking meals, said about 1,000 people have been coming in and out daily from across the region in Hopatcong, Jefferson, Stanhope and Byram.

"It's an overwhelming sense of love and concern that just started and routed in our borough, but it's extended beyond us," Petillo said. "Every night we try to do something just to lift everybody's spirit up. People are socializing, they're making friends, they're not home alone."

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k November 05, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Looked like alot of fun. Wish we knew about it. Hopefully there will never be a next time but maybe a message could have been sent out with the school closing message. I know my spider girl would have loved it.
Joanne Flexser November 05, 2012 at 01:08 PM
What a very nice thing you ladies did for our town and especially our kids!
Jennifer Lamphier November 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I was honored to be a part of it and I met an amazing young woman/teacher from South Jersey who read about our town online and drove by herself 2 and a half hours up here to help out. She had no idea what she got herself into and realized quickly getting gas to get back home was going to be a big problem but that didn't stop her from continuing to the school to help. The efforts of our teachers and others throughout the community & state are inspiring! This disaster has brought out the best in our small town and I'm humbled and proud of everyone that's out there helping others get through the day.
Brian Magrini November 05, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Absolutely speechless!!! My girls had a blast thank you thank you thank you......
Linda Dora November 05, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I was there with my grand children this was a wonderful thing to do the kids were so happy and got them out of the house...so they didnt miss Halloween Thanks for all who helped .
Laurel Pezeur November 05, 2012 at 08:02 PM
We would've loved to go also, but we never heard about it. My girls would've loved to be a part of this.
hopatcong resident November 05, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I wish I would have known. community communication sucks last I heard Halloween was canceled to day but didn't hear anything about party at the high school
Kelly November 11, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I agree. Information is not being spread out very well in Hopatcong.
Mir November 12, 2012 at 08:17 AM
Joanne, was it really done for the town? Then, why was not everyone in the town informed. Do you know how this event was promoted. Just wondering???
Kimberly November 12, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Wow! As a resident I am a little saddened to see so many negative comments about something that was so positive in a time of need. I am sorry the "Entire" town of Hopatcong didn't know but if you read the article it was done on less than 24 hours notice and it started to benefit the residents of the shelter as there were many children at that time living there. My daughter was a high schooler who volunteered her time during the party and the children who showed up had a great time! I am sirry your child missed Halloween but don't knock an event that was whipped together in no time by a teacher who loves the children of Hopatcong! There's always Halloween next year!!

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