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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