Hy-Vee Sponsors Kids' Halloween Fundraiser for Hurricane Victims

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- What started as a 10-year-old Iowa girl's idea for helping other kids in need, has blossomed into a nationwide fundraising drive with a goal of raising more than $1 million for young victims of hurricane disasters.

Trick-or-Treating for the Levee Catastrophe -- or T.L.C., as it's come to be known -- was the brainchild of 10-year-old Talia Leman of Waukee, Iowa. While watching television news coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the plight of those left homeless, Talia posed a question to her mother: What if this Halloween, instead of collecting candy, kids across America collected spare change to donate to the hurricane victims?

Talia wrote a business plan and got an appointment at Hy-Vee corporate headquarters. Her plan set a goal of raising $1 million for hurricane relief. She asked Hy-Vee officials to consider putting the T.L.C. message on the orange plastic grocery bags the company traditionally prints for Halloween.

"We were impressed with Talia's initiative and her desire to help other children through a very tough time," said Ruth Comer, a.v.p. of communications for Hy-Vee. "We called our plastic bag supplier to see if there was time to change our order and get the T.L.C. message on grocery bags, and our supplier said we were just in time -- the bags were just about to go to the printer."

Hy-Vee quickly designed a logo and ordered two truckloads of the plastic grocery bags -- about 8.5 million bags, to be distributed among Hy-Vee supermarkets and Hy-Vee Drugstore units in seven Midwestern states. The stores put up posters inviting children to get their T.L.C. sacks at Hy-Vee, and bring their trick-or-treat collections to the stores after Halloween.

Hy-Vee also helped Talia and her parents contact the Red Cross, which was designated as the recipient of T.L.C. funds. As word of the T.L.C. campaign spread, Talia heard from media representatives, schools and other organizations that wanted to help get the message out across the nation. Nearly half a million dollars has already been collected.
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