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Trick or treat for charity

by: Vern Uyetake, Tova and Noah Kruss sold their wooden nickels in front of Hannah Anderson last Friday. The coins can also be purchased at News Seasons Market — Mountain Park.

Have you eaten all your Halloween candy from last year?

Tova and Noah Kruss haven't either. As a solution, they're asking you to trick or treat for Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon Humane Society or the Oregon Zoo this year.

'It is a year from last Halloween and we still have candy,' said Michelle Kruss, their mother.

'Every year since I was 2 my brother and I have gone trick or treating,' said Tova, a sixth-grader at Winterhaven Elementary in Southeast Portland. 'And at the end of the night my parents sort the candy into two piles - ones we can keep and ones we have to throw away.'

Tova had braces last year, and this year Noah, a third grader, has braces.

To them it is wasteful to take candy from neighbors, and then either throw half of it away or never get around to eating it all.

Their solution is to sell wooden nickels that Lake Oswego kids can redeem the day after Halloween at New Seasons Market - Mountain Park to support the charity of their choice.

This is Noah's first charitable venture, but his sister has been at it a little longer. It started when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 - the year Tova was in third grade - she asked for kids to bring gently used toys to donate for a rummage sale. The sale raised $267.

She has also been continuously donating to the World Wildlife Fund through either her lemonade stand or her personal allowance.

'I want to be a veteranian for endangered animals,' said Tova, so that explains the focus on animals. 'I went to Costa Rica,' she said. 'There and even around here there are a lot of stray and abused animals.'

For that reason she chose the Oregon Humane Society.

And 'It can never hurt to help a zoo.'

The reason for Doernbecher is because she has seen her friend go through some health issues that placed her in the hospital. 'Those people were able to help her so much,' said Tova.

The siblings started selling their tokens the first weekend of October with a lemonade stand and made about $250.

'We sold maybe two or three cups of lemonade,' said Tova. The bulk of the money was people buying the tokens.

The kids' goal is to raise $500 per charity.

'I'm surprised no one has done something about Halloween,' said Tova. 'No one has used it as a fundraiser.'

'Kids are always going trick or treating for themselves,' her mom added.

The organizing has been good for the kids, said Michelle. 'There have been so many little decisions the kids have to make.' They had to figure out a design to go on the coins. They had to figure out a fair way for kids to get prizes from their coins. They had to meet with adults from local businesses and try to get donations for the prizes.

'I like it when adults listen to me,' said Tova, who has done most of the talking without her mom. 'They've been very supportive.'

Tova has probably put in about 10 hours a week since the beginning of summer, she said.

'It's our rough draft,' said Tova. 'If it works out great and a lot of people do it, we can do it in a wider range.'

Here's how it works:

1) Tova, Noah and their friends will sell wooden nickels to their neighbors for $1 a piece or $5 for 10.

2) Neighbors will hand them out on Halloween.

3) Kids can collect as many as they can and come to New Seasons the following day to redeem them.

4) Tova and Noah will be there with three cauldrons representing the three charities they selected. Kids can put their coins toward the charities of their choice.

5) Additionally, kids can draw prizes from a box based on the number of coins they have. The prizes are represented by pieces of paper, and the papers with a panda stamp on them are the top prizes (bike helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, chocolate, a zoo pass, etc.)