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‘Spooktacular’ Halloween Party in East Flatbush to Give Out Free Winter Coats

For families in economic crisis, these Brooklyn-based nonprofits are throwing a party with a purpose.
Children in costumes at annual East Flatbush 'Spooktacular' event 2021. Photo: Provided/Elite Learners.

A 'spooktacular' Halloween party in East Flatbush is just a few days away.

On Oct. 29, at the Wyckoff House Museum, little ghosts and goblins will play games, snack on delicious 'sand-witches,' compete for the best costume prize and more at the annual Kids Fall Spooktacular.

Tons of fun activities are in store, but it will also be a party with a purpose, as cost-of-living expenses skyrocket across the city. The organizers will be providing coats at the event to families in need. 

“Kids will have a good time at the party while we help financially struggling families. In addition to the coat drive, we will inform them about the many resources we have to help make ends meet,” Camara Jackson, executive director of Elite Learners, told BKReader.

Child in costume at Elite Learner's Halloween party 2021. Photo: Provided/Elite Learners.
Child in costume at Elite Learner's Halloween party 2021. Photo: Provided/Elite Learners.

The Brownsville-based mentorship and anti-violence organization, with offices in East Flatbush and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, organized its annual event with nonprofit partners Brothers Alliance for Social Empowerment and Wyckoff House Museum, with support from District 45 City Councilmember Farah N. Louis

Coat drives are a signature event for BASE, which began in 2018, with a backpack drive financed by a group of Black professionals pooling their money. Their annual events have grown to include turkey giveaways for Thanksgiving and Christmas toy drives.

Dorian Fuller, BASE 's chairman of the board, said the Bed-Stuy-based organization hosted its first coat drive last year in East Flatbush. 

“There were hundreds of people, entire families showing up to get coats,” Fuller said.

“The temperature was 30 to 40 degrees, and children came without coats at all, and there were some entire families with no coats.”

Brothers Alliance for Social Empowerment Coat Drive 2021
Brothers Alliance for Social Empowerment Coat Drive 2021 in East Flatbush. Photo: Provided/BASE.

This year, the needs are even greater. In May 2022, the nonprofit Robin Hood reported that New York City’s poverty rate was nearly twice the national average in 2020, with roughly one in five children in poverty. Scores of Brooklyn families were plunged further into crisis when inflation reached a new 40-year high in June 2022.

“With prices for a loaf of bread nearly double from a year ago, a lot of people are looking for financial assistance and support from the city,” Jackson said. Jackson organized pop-up food pantries and meal distributions to seniors during the pandemic.

Since the pandemic, Jackson has noticed an increasing number of students in central Brooklyn are “forced to find work at an earlier age than before” to help support their families.

Elite Learners now operates a fresh produce stand at Flatbush Junction. With support from Louis, the group is one of the first organizations of color from the community to run a farm stand in Flatbush, Jackson said.

Elite Learners Farm Stand at Flatbush Junction. Photo: Provided/Elite Learners.
Elite Learners Farm Stand at Flatbush Junction. Photo: Provided/Elite Learners.

“This is important because several low-income communities of color in Brooklyn are fresh food deserts, where residents have few options for affordable fresh fruits and vegetables,” Jackson said.

“The stand also gives us the ability to provide jobs for young people in the community.”

The fresh produce stand is open on Saturdays, from 11:00am to 1:00pm through November 19, and accepts customers with SNAP benefits.

This year’s Spooktacular is at the Wyckoff House Museum, located at 5916 Clarendon Rd, and runs from 12:00pm, to 3:00pm, on Oct. 29. Coats will be distributed at the free event on a first-come, first-served basis. One coat per family member who is present.

About the Author: Nigel Roberts

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