How much fun was the 2018 version of Safe Block?
For the answer, let’s go to the mother of Katelyn and Allison Keeling, 11-year-old twins from Norwalk.
“The best part of my night was when we got in the car to go home and both girls said, ‘Mom, can we go to Simpson?’” said Jan Keeling, an administrative assistant with Sodexo.
Such is the power of candy, costumes and college students.
About 300 children attended Simpson’s annual treat-giving event, from infants to 12-year-olds. Tayler Keitzer, Area Coordinator (Residence Life) said she saw a family dressed as The Greatest Showman characters (Dad was the bearded lady) and children representing an assortment of super heroes, Toy Story characters, unicorns, Transformers and Pokemon characters.
“We didn’t have any candy left at the end of the night!” she said.
It’s difficult to estimate how many Simpson students were involved – “a lot,” Keitzer said. Each hallway in Barker and Kresge, the first-year buildings, were decorated. One wing in Kresge had 22 students dress up and distribute goodies.
Student guides escort children and their parents to various buildings, including the popular Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, where the second floor was decorated for candy distribution and the third floor showcased a haunted house theme.
Konner Johnson, a sophomore from Indianola majoring in Management Information Systems, helped organize the fraternity’s preparations.
“My job was not that tough, to be honest,” he said. “Safe Block holds a special place for our house. We love to be involved with such a fun event. So really all I had to do was let people know and everyone jumped in.”
Johnson credited Ben Harrison with handling most of the decorations. In all about 30 fraternity members volunteered – including the cook, who stayed late to help with the preparations.
“We really enjoy the smiles kids leave with and hope they want to keep coming back year after year,” Johnson said. “We as a house take this on because we know it is a way to impact the Indianola community. We love giving back to the town that provides us a safe and fun college experience.”
Keitzer said building representatives are advised to have enough candy to give every child one piece. This year, Safe Block reached out to Simpson faculty and staff members for their leftover Halloween candy, but even that emergency supply was distributed.
For Amelia Richards, a senior from Lincoln, Neb., majoring in political science, the night was bittersweet. A Community Advisor, she has helped plan Safe Block for four years; this would be her final time.
“I think it’s really a toss-up of who enjoys Safe Block more,” she said. “Residents get a very unique experience of bonding with the community and with each other… I like talking to the kids as they come through the halls and seeing my residents have fun. I love how excited students are to help the kids enjoy Halloween.”
The Keeling twins would agree. Their mother said they screamed the entire time they were on SAE’s haunted floor.
“I brought a friend and her children with me this year and she was amazed by how friendly everyone was how involved the residents were in the event,” Jan Keeling said in a note to Keitzer.
Despite the organizational challenge, Keitzer said, “it was definitely worth all the effort. The kids really enjoyed it, and for some of our students this is the first time that they have interacted with community members. It’s a great experience for all involved.”