By Devin Rose
Max Casson, a sixth-grader at St. Luke Parish School, had a plan to make Halloween a little sweeter for the kids at Shriners Hospital earlier this month.
Max, 11, was driving by the hospital on Oak Park Avenue with his parents one day when he realized the kids staying there couldn't go trick-or-treating on Halloween. He told his mom, Amie, that he had an idea — he was going to make a flier and put it up around his neighborhood, asking people to donate their leftover Halloween candy. Then he'd take all the proceeds to the hospital so the young patients could enjoy it.
Amie liked the idea and told her husband to make sure he looked over the flier before Max started handing it out. She went out to run some errands, but Max was on a mission. By the time she got back, he had already made the flier asking people to donate and handed them out at the Oak Park Public Library, George's Restaurant and the Lake Theatre. Soon after that, Max's religion teacher, Maryanne Polega, gave Amie a call.
Max couldn't wait to read his flier — for a full week — during the school's morning announcements to let people know about the candy drive, said Polega, the school's assistant principal. The week after Halloween, Casson and his mom drove 75 pounds of candy to the hospital.
"It didn't surprise me at all," Polega said. "He definitely cares about stewardship. He's a deep thinker." Polega added that Max's idea teaches the kind of lesson she tries to convey to students all the time — that every little act makes a difference in somebody's life.
Amie Casson said when she and Max took a tour of the hospital, he heard the stories of some of the kids who were there. Some were in car accidents and hadn't worn their seatbelts, Amie said, and the donations coordinator told Max they were always looking for books to read while waiting for treatment.
"Max was already thinking about his next project," his mom said.