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Meal Exchange co-ordinators dressed up as bacon and eggs.
Melanie Hirsig/the Gauntlet

Trick or Eat for people's needs

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On Oct. 31, 500 costumed students -- more than double from last year -- are expected to fill the MacHall Ballroom to register for this year's annual Trick or Eat event.

Students will head to the communities of Scenic Acres, Varsity, Silver Springs, Edgemont and Charleswood to knock on doors, only they won't be asking for candy.

Trick or Eat volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food items which will be donated to both the Students' Union Campus Food Bank and the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank.

"This is our third year here on the U of C campus," said Chapter co-ordinator of the University of Calgary's Meal Exchange Stephanie Soto. "The first year we had 90 volunteers, last year we had 220 and this year we are expecting 500."

Despite only being in its third year, the U of C chapter was awarded Chapter of the Year in 2010.

"The University of Guelph's chapter in Ontario is the current leader -- they get around 1000-1,200 students out," Soto said. "So if we can get to 500 this year then we're competing with them pretty well."

Last year the 220 participants collected 6,300 pounds of food for the Campus Food Bank and the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank.

Third-year political science student and Trick or Eat volunteer Scott Weir was originally involved in Trick or Eat through the Emerging Leaders Program, but enjoyed it so much last year that he says he will do it every year for the remainder of his time at university.

"I think a lot of students actually want something else to do on Halloween," Weir said. "So they come and help out with a worthy cause."

Even if students aren't willing to give up their Halloween party, Weir explained there are many ways to get involved before and after the event. "You can help organize certain things or decorate the ballroom, or hand out pamphlets the week before," he said.

Students who would like to help but do not like the idea of lugging around bags of heavy cans need not worry -- each team is paired up with a car which meets participants at designated points to collect food and deliver it to Volunteer Services in MacHall.

Participants then make their way back to the hall to help with sorting and packing the food. Toiletries, pasta, peanut butter, canned fruits and other needed items will go straight to shelves of the Campus Food Bank.

"November is the peak time," explained Campus Food Bank co-ordinator Shawnee Belleville. "Fall term tends to be busier than winter term because people's loans don't come in or they come in late, then there's the stress of Christmas and the holiday season."

Typically, the Campus Food Bank supplies 20-30 hampers per month. These hampers cost approximately $67 for a single person.

"You can sign up as a team, go as a team or if you sign up as an individual we will help you be put into a team the night of [the event] so that no one is going by themselves, because it's not nearly as fun and there are the obvious safety reasons."

Weir, who volunteered last year, recommends to "stagger yourselves away from the actual trick-or-treaters. Don't follow the little kids because you just look creepy."

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