Chatham engages the community with Harvest FunFest

The sounds of Disney music and children’s laughter filled Chatham University’s quad on Saturday, October 31, as community members of all ages put on their best costumes and came together to celebrate all things spooky at Harvest FunFest.

The annual event, hosted by Chatham University, brings together students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community in a celebration of the Halloween season.  With a focus on young children, the event gives kids the opportunity to dress up, do a wide variety of Halloween themed crafts and activities — most of which are sponsored by student organizations on campus — and of course, eat all the candy they can get.

In addition to the 13 activities sponsored by student organizations, — like making slime out of clear glue and liquid starch with “This Is Me” — and two events — including cookie decorating and coloring, sponsored by Dean Zauyah Waite, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students — the free event also boasted two bouncy houses, balloon animals, face painting, and a selection of food and drinks.

According to Heather Black, Director of Student Affairs & Residence Life, the planning for the event began in early September.  

“We do a call to all student organizations,” she explained. “We give them a small budget and take care of all of the supplies.”

“I think it’s something special for a college to do something that involves the whole community,” said first-year Abigail Teibel, a member of the organization “Girl-Up,” which provided superhero masks for the kids to decorate because, “anyone can be a superhero.”

Her sentiments were widely echoed among many attendees including Black, who explained that the Chatham tradition, which is largely planned and organized by students, has grown extensively in the past three years.

“Over the years it’s become something that the community looks forward to,” she said. “And I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

Community members feel the same.

“My granddaughter and grandson are having a great time,” Tom Ritson, husband of Chatham adjunct professor Margaret Ritson, said. “They just love the creative activities, and the hands-on stuff is really cool.”

Their grandson, five-year-old Beau (dressed as Wolverine) agreed, adding, “I like whenever we jumped on the bouncy house.”

His two-year-old sister Adalynn (dressed as a princess), though not very talkative, was not shy about dancing to the music.

In addition to providing family fun, the event was also a fundraiser.  Each table had a purple bucket in which community members could place donations, all of which went to a specific cause or charity, often one with which Chatham has previous connections.  In the past the funds have gone to the student emergency fund, and this year, like last year, the money is going to Relay for Life.

Community members responded to this, donating generously at the event which was, objectively, a success for everyone involved.

“We’ve become a staple in the community,” Black said about the response from neighbors of the campus. “We want to continue providing a safe space for people to gather. I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

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