Sparked by the desire to create positive, magical moments for children in need, Spirit Halloween created Spirit of Children in 2006. The unfamiliar surroundings of hospital rooms, the noisy halls, and the daily treatments can weigh heavily on patients and their support systems, so Spirit of Children was brought about to provide some lighthearted and fulfilling experiences that made hospitals less scary for children and their families.

To begin the journey, Spirit partnered with local hospitals’ Child Life departments to provide costumes, accessories, décor, activities, and local Spirit store volunteers for Halloween parties. Child Life departments address the essential emotional and psychological needs of children and their families. Support for Child Life Services allows patients access to art, music, aquatic, and pet therapies, as well as toys used for education, distractions, and entertainment during medical procedures. Nearly all of the funding for Child Life departments in the U.S. comes from philanthropic efforts, like Spirit of Children, so it was the perfect fit.

In 2006, Spirit of Children started its journey by partnering with 11 hospitals, and grew its partnerships to 34 hospitals by 2007 when fundraising began. In 2022, Spirit of Children has grown to a year-round donation effort with 154 partner hospitals across the United States and Canada who receive donations from over 1,400 Spirit Halloween stores. 100% of every donation supports the Child Life departments in local partner hospitals.

Your in-store and online donations, combined with donations from Spirit’s vendors, total over $93 million dollars since 2007!  Spirit of Children was even able to provide an incredible $12.4 million in support for Child Life departments in 2020, and $16 million in 2021, shattering goals and expectations. The Spirit of Children 2022 goal for donations is $18 million. This will be a milestone year, as Spirit of Children will surpass the $100 million milestone in total donations raised.

Rick Tereo, Spirit of Children Team Lead and Director, Corporate Administration, Spencer Spirit Holdings, Inc., says: “We feel a deep sense of pride and privilege in our ability to support the critical work of Child Life at 154 partner hospitals across North America through Spirit of Children. Our fundraising efforts enable Child Life Specialists to provide therapeutic and emotional healing and coping to young patients, while doctors and nurses focus on medical treatment.”

“Our associates are the backbone of the impactful Spirit of Children efforts that have helped so many children and their families at our partner hospitals. Without their commitment to sharing our mission with guests, our vendors, and licensing partners, this milestone would not be possible,” said Steven Silverstein, CEO of Spirit Halloween. “We remain committed to supporting Child Life Departments and the critical work they do to make hospitals less scary for kids and their families.”

Spirit recognizes that Halloween isn’t just about spooky ghouls and goblins. Halloween also evokes warm, magical feelings for many of us. If you’re reading this, that joy has likely stayed with you as you’ve grown up. Whether it was the fun of trick or treating, or the feeling of watching scary movies with friends and family, Halloween is truly a magical time for people of all ages. Spirit of Children seeks to provide moments like that for children not only at Halloween, but year-round.   

Be one of the customers who proudly rings our iconic purple cowbell when you donate to Spirit of Children at checkout this fall, or donate online all year long. When your local Spirit Halloween store opens, look for the signage behind the registers that tells you what the local partner hospital is and how much has been raised for them to date. When you make a donation you also get one of our coveted Spirit of Children bracelets.

However you choose to give, we’d love to hear about it! Share on social media with #spiritofchildren to inspire others and spread the word!

Interested in learning more? Read more about all of Spirit of Children’s missions and accomplishments.