Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Astra Group donates Hallowen costumes to low-income children at CUPS

CUPS children will have their pick of Halloween costumes, after a large donation by the Astra Group and members of Calgary’s business community.

The donation, said Astra Group CEO Maxim Olshevsky, was born of his first memories of Halloween in Canada not being pleasant ones.

At age 12, instead of getting to take part in trick or treating he was biking door-to-door on a flyer route.

“I didn’t know anything about what Halloween was, and I could see kids running around collecting candy and here I am going to the same houses but collecting flyers,” he said.

“That resonated with me that not every kid always has a chance to really enjoy the holiday, hence the reasoning for this.”

From Star Wars to Disney Princesses, Paw Patrol, superheroes and space suits, the costumes covered the gamut of what kids recognize and want to dress up as.

That connection, said Grant Kennedy, senior manager of family and child development with CUPS, is important for early childhood development. CUPS has programs for kids between age 3 through to Kindergarten.

“Letting them see themselves as the character just unleashes that imagination even more, and it inspires more of a connection to that rich literature and enriched experiences that that help them along their developmental trajectory,” Kennedy said.

The kids in the CUPS program will get to choose which costume they want, as part of the donation. The organization will also be setting aside some of the costumes as part of their ‘tickle trunk’ to encourage play in the future.

“What becomes to them next is getting them into the hands of families and kids, and really allowing them to have some voice and choice and being able to see ‘this is the one that I’m looking for,'” Kennedy said.

“What we really like to do is really allow their interest to dictate the learning that happens within the center. So the more varied materials, costumes, art supplies that we have, it really just allows us to connect with that child on an individual level as a learner to help maximize their learning potential.”

Ensuring that all kids get a chance to experience Halloween

The initial goal was for Astra Group to collect 60 costumes, but they were able to collect more than 100.

Olshevsky said for him, the donation was a way of ensuring that for at least one evening, families would have one less thing to worry about.

“It provides an opportunity to put a smile on a kid’s face, and perhaps one evening not to worry about the constraints that both the economy and their circumstances could have potentially placed on them. Because, as a kid you don’t really understand that,” he said.

“You’re just like ‘somebody has it, and I don’t.’ I’m no stranger to that feeling, so at times it’s really good to present kids with the opportunity not to worry about things that are meant for adults.

“That’s one of the great reasons why we do so many things at Peoplefirst.”

Kennedy said it the donation a great opportunity to just let kids be kids. He pointed to the high price of costumes that could be a barrier to the CUPS client families providing that experience.

“They can be quite expensive, and clearly looking at the quality of these ones, that they do cost a pretty penny as well,” he said.

“We’re just thinking about families needing to make some tough decisions as to prioritizing where funds go, and really maximizing family well being, and this is a great opportunity for families to be able to connect their kids with some great materials that really inspire imagination, engage in play, and just let them have the best Halloween that they could possibly have.”