Handing out hand-made Halloween costumes

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At HELP House on Oct. 19, Jermaine Jones of London stops by Liz Lassel’s table to pick up Halloween costume kits for his nephews and nieces. “This is great. I’ll do anything I can for the kids,” Jones said. The superhero capes and princess outfits were made by offenders in the Community Stitches program at Madison Correctional Institution.

(Posted Oct. 22, 2020)

By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer

Liz Lassel of the London Visual Arts Guild (LVAG) believes in connecting the guild to the community through projects designed to help at-risk groups. Her most recent project was the Howling Halloween Giveaway which took place earlier this week at HELP House of London.

The giveaway featured boys’ and girls’ costume kits that included:

  • superhero capes and princess outfits with patches on which children can write their superhero or princess names or create logos;
  • arts and craft supplies, shields, ribbons and dowels for princess wands, headbands and crowns;
  • facemasks; and
  • warm shirts to wear underneath the costumes.

Offenders enrolled in the Community Stiches Program at Madison Correctional Institution in London made the costumes. Lassel teaches offenders how to sew and quilt. They make blankets, quilts and other items for a variety of charitable causes.

Liz Lassel of the London Visual Arts Guild stands outside of HELP House in London, passing out bags filled with Halloween costume kits for boys and girls. Offenders enrolled in the Community Stitches program at Madison Correctional Institution made the bags and costumes.

As families drove through the line at HELP House on Oct. 19 to pick up food assistance packages and meals, they were offered the costume kits in Halloween-themed bags.

Thomas G. Young II of London picked up bags for his son and daughter, Matthias, 11, and Kierra, 9.

“I wasn’t expecting this today,” Young said. “They always give nice things away here at HELP House.  I was surprised to get the Halloween things. The kids will enjoy getting them.”

Lassel provided families with instruction sheets and asked them to send in photos of their children’s decorated superhero and princess costumes. The photos will be posted on LVAG’s Facebook page. The Howling Halloween team at LVAG will select the winners. Prizes include: a treat bag of candy valued at $15, a family membership to the Arts Guild for 2021 valued at $50, and a voucher for the Kids Summer Arts Program set for June 2021 and valued at $35.

Liz Lassel hands Halloween costume kits to Thomas G. Young II of London to pass along to his children.

The Halloween giveaway was the first of four giveaway projects LVAG is hosting, funded through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council in partnership with the London Arts Center and Community Stitches.

“The grant was written with COVID in mind,” Lassel said. “The impact of COVID has been hard on so many families who’ve been unemployed and experienced reduced income.”

In November, LVAG will distribute 40 vouchers at area food banks for the other three giveaways. In the spring, the guild will host a free, two-hour class in which voucher recipients will make hand-painted cards for Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The other programs are a three-day summer arts camp for children and a free jewelry-making class.

For more information about upcoming programs and events hosted by LVAG, visit londonvisualartsguild.org. The guild’s new London Arts Center is located at 121 E. First St.

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