At six years old, Mason Barter is understandably shy with strangers. Despite that, it’s easy to see he’s a happy, playful boy who, like most kids, enjoys Halloween.
But each year, instead of trick or treating to earn himself some treats, Mason gets dressed up and goes door-to-door collecting on behalf of the Salvation Army food bank.
He’s been doing it for a while now.
“A long time,” is his estimate. This year he collected in disguise as “Optimus Prime”.
This was actually the fifth year Mason has collected for the food bank according to his mother, Michelle, who views the endeavor as a teaching opportunity.
Her niece, Julia, participated in a Halloween For Humanity drive while in high school.
“That was the first time it was ever done around here,” she said. “They collected for the food bank.”
Michelle’s not entirely clear how the discussion went, just that she really liked the idea.
“I said that would be a great thing to teach him,” she recalled.
Michelle occasionally hears about Halloween For Humanity drives in other towns, but as far as she knows only Mason participates in the Taverner Drive – Smallwood Drive section of Grand Bay West in Port aux Basques. The neighbourhood has been truly supportive, with Michelle noting that the donations have continued to increase every year.
“It’s kind of funny because everyone knows it now,” says Michelle. “I’ll get messages a couple of weeks before Halloween. ‘Are you still doing the food bank with Mason? I’ll get his bag ready.’ And stuff like that.”
Usually Michelle just drops the donations off without any fuss, but this year for the first time her husband Paul and Mason delivered the boxes.
“He’s generally shy sometimes but larger than life most times,” notes Michelle. “He pranced right in.”
Michelle reports that the food bank volunteers were pleased to meet their young benefactor.
Mason still gets his own fair share of treats when he makes his rounds, though when he was a toddler she tended not to encourage that.
“Now I think a lot of people know that he’s doing it and they respect it,” says Michelle, who admits the neighbourhood has taken to slipping her son a few extra goodies as he gets older. “He’s gotten a few more treats this year than he’s gotten every other year.”
Mason has already promised he will be collecting for the food bank next year too.