Hillsdale’s Student Ath­letic Advisory Com­mittee held its annual Trunk or Treat phil­an­thropy event to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foun­dation for the second year in a row, nearly dou­bling the money it raised last year.

On Sunday, nearly 100 student-ath­letes dressed in cos­tumes came out to the parking lot across from the Roche Sports Complex to hand out candy from the back of their Hal­loween-dec­o­rated cars to children from around the community.

“We set up the cars in a large circle, a path where the kids and the fam­ilies can walk around and then they go to each car which is rep­re­sented by an orga­ni­zation or sport or fra­ternity, sorority, or dorm,” Tyler Conrad, junior men’s tennis player and SAAC vice-pres­ident said. “It’s like trick-or-treating but with cars instead.”

Senior vol­leyball player and SAAC Pres­ident Madie Schider said the goal of the event was twofold: to give children around Hillsdale a fun event where they can connect with the stu­dents of Hillsdale, and to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We basi­cally reached out to all of the ele­mentary and middle schools in the area and told them about the event,” Schider said. “We just said come and if you want to donate to Make-A-Wish, you’re more than welcome to, if not, just come for the expe­rience and meet some of the student-ath­letes and club members.”

Conrad said that despite a lower turnout from stu­dents than last year, the event was still more suc­cessful than before.

“We raised over $900 this year, last year we were just under $500,” Conrad said. “We had fewer cars than last year by virtue of other events going on at the same time, so many of the men’s sports and fra­ter­nities and male dorms couldn’t par­tic­ipate. We were expecting a pretty similar turnout to last year but our expec­ta­tions were very wrong, we brought nearly twice the amount of candy as we did last year and cars were still running out.”

SAAC started the event last year to offer local kids an oppor­tunity to still go trick-or-treating in a safe manner as many houses around the com­munity were not par­tic­i­pating in the usual Hal­loween fes­tiv­ities due to the pandemic. 

“It was a COVID-friendly sit­u­ation, because you weren’t in close contact and obvi­ously we weren’t inside,” Schider said. 

Though COVID-19 restric­tions and fears were less of an issue this year, Schider said the turnout was still “incredible,” as more than 750 kids came to the event and nearly 1,500 people total. 

SAAC’s officers attributed part of this success to the smaller sta­tions that they had set up throughout the parking lot.

“We bought some sup­plies from Meckley’s Orchard and we set up a photo op, a lot of fam­ilies used that,” Conrad said. “Also the day of the event, we realized that we had a ton of Hal­loween crafts that had been donated and we set up a table near the photo booth, next year we’re going to try to make that more of a point of emphasis.”

Though orga­ni­za­tions of all kinds helped to hand out candy, it was student-ath­letes in par­ticular that brought many of the cars, according to Conrad.

“We pri­marily had cars from sports teams, some of the teams, espe­cially the women’s teams, were able to get nearly their entire team out there, which was really great to see,” Conrad said. 

One of the teams that set up a car was the golf team, which set up a putting green where kids could take puts to try to win more candy, Schider said.

“We had this putting mat out that was really popular with the kids, they all wanted to have a go at it,” junior golfer Darragh Mon­aghan said. “We had one stay where 20 or 30 kids were lined up, ready to have a go at it. It was busy all day and it was good fun.”

As SAAC looks ahead to its next big event, the spring’s ESPY awards, the officers said that they’re con­fident Trunk or Treat can con­tinue to be an annual staple for them.

“We figure it’ll still be a really great idea to get the kids out there and be able to dress up and walk around, and have it be endorsed by stu­dents at the college and fill that gap a little bit,” Conrad said. “And of course it’s also a great way to keep raising money for Make-a-Wish, which is SAAC’s national philanthropy.”