• Grim Reaper Meg Westlund of the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives hands out candy and a reminder about the Community Giving campaign at 77 Massachusetts Ave.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • Community Giving volunteer Joan Nelson of Facilities greeted passersby at 77 Massachusetts Ave. wearing her Green Bay Packers costume.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Trick-or-treaters give out candy to encourage community donations

Red Sox regalia outran the classic witch ensemble at this year's annual Halloween kickoff event for the Community Giving campaign, held at various campus locations on Friday, Oct. 29.

To celebrate the campaign launch, 14 costumed volunteers and Tim the Beaver handed out candy and information about MIT's charitable giving program to early morning commuters to MIT.

Karen Fosher, Human Resources administrator at the Picower Center for Learning and Memory, described herself as a "diehard Red Sox fan" whose costume was simply, "World Champion," meaning, Red Sox shirt and cap. Fosher greeted commuters at the Main Street entrance to Building E19.

Patti Pisani, financial assistant in Facilities, wore a Red Sox sweatshirt to honor the World Series winners as she offered candy in front of 77 Massachusetts Ave. Pisani "usually dresses up as an MIT athlete, but this year I'm going with the excitement of the Red Sox," she said.

Fosher and Pisani share more than Red Sox fandom, they said. Both had volunteered to help the Community Giving campaign in the past, and they hope to inspire people to "give what they can this year," Fosher said.

Meg Westlund, administrative and facilities coordinator in the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives, was also assigned to greet commuters at 77 Massachusetts Ave. Her disguise: a black nylon Death Eater-type gown with a fiery red hood and long sleeves. "We at MIT are so lucky to be working for such a great institution. Yet we are surrounded by neighborhoods where there is real poverty, and we can make a difference in peoples' lives," Westlund said.

Other volunteers shared the same message about giving but diverged a bit from the costume focus on baseball. Joan Nelson, an administrative assistant in Facilities, wore a Green Bay Packer Brett Favre football jersey topped with a foam cheesehead, a souvenir from her recent trip to Wisconsin. Melissa Kavlakli, an administrative assistant in the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, modeled a black cat mask, thanks to her love of cats. Marielle Risse, administrative assistant in the School of Engineering, wore a fortune-teller ensemble.

Both Nelson and Kavlakli were posted at 77 Massachusetts Ave. "This is a great way to combine something fun with something serious," Nelson said about spending the morning handing out candy to MIT colleagues.

Lynda Nelson, administrative assistant to the Controller, borrowed her son's costume, a large pink "whoopee cushion," to cheer commuters as she gave out candy in front of the Stata Center. "Hopefully, during the time between November and January when it is time to make pledges, maybe a few individuals will remember our amusing efforts and support the Community Giving campaign," Lynda Nelson said.

There was one traditional witch--Linda Patton, assistant director of Off-Campus Housing and special projects, who was assigned to greet people at the entrance to MIT Medical. Patton's message to the community echoed that of her fellow volunteers.

"Share, share, share! Our economy is down. Many people are affected and sharing even a small amount can make a huge difference in someone's life. The money you spend for your cup of coffee each morning can be shared to help the community and others," Patton said.

The Community Giving campaign runs from Oct. 29 through Jan. 21, 2005. Employees will receive pledge packets this week. A Book Fair to support the campaign will be held on Dec. 7 in the Bush Room, and a clothing drive will begin mid-December.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 3, 2004 (download PDF).

Topics: Cambridge, Boston and region, Staff, Volunteering, outreach, public service


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