BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL
Smiling faces made their ways into Hi-Tor Lanes in West Haverstraw on Friday night. It wasn’t just for the moonlight bowling, but also for the good cause they were supporting. A group of North Rocklanders, known as the Haunt for Hospice people, put together an event for the evening called Monster Moonlight Bowling.
This event is part of a series of Halloween themed events that raise money for Hospice. Hospice is an organization that helps make the final days easier for a loved one and their family. Much of it is paid for through donations and fundraising like this.
“I don’t know how we would function without volunteers,” said Amy Stern, the executive director for United Hospice of Rockland. “What makes this event really special is it’s a community effort. North Rockland comes together and pulls it off.”
A few years ago on October 30, Joan Bender, a lover of holidays, especially Halloween, passed away. Hospice was there with her and her family.
“People said we have to do something for her. If it wasn’t for her friends, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” said John Bender, Joan’s son.
This is the fourth year that Haunt for Hospice is being held. The first event was a blood drive in collaboration with the Stony Point Fire Department, which was held on Friday the 13th. Sixty-nine units of blood were collected that day.
“There are so many volunteers. Local businesses donate all sorts of things to help out,” said Cookie Muggeo, one of the major organizers of the event and a friend of Cindy’s. “We’ve raised $16,000 up until last year.”
“Nobody has ever said no. Businesses even donated the garbage bags to put on the walls of the haunted house,” said Barbara Honsch, another organizer and friend of Joan’s.
Haunt for Hospice is a big deal in the North Rockland community. Everyone knows what it is, and many have participated in some way. Besides friends of the Bender family, the North Rockland ROTC program helps out and the Youth for Hospice program. Many of the members were at Hi Tor lanes, either working the raffles or bowling.
“Our school does a lot of events for Hospice,” added Melissa Zeller.
There were no costumed patrons at Monster Moonlight Bowling, but there was plenty of fun. There was a silent auction for a few different items, including an Origami Owl locket. There were raffles for different gift cards. Everyone also received a gift bag full of goodies like coupons from local businesses. Mary Ellen Dodrill was in charge of the event.
“I asked her because she’s done bowling events before and she jumped right in!” said Muggeo.
The next event for Haunt for Hospice is the Monster Mash on October 20 at Cedar Brook Sheds and Nursery. There will be live music, face painting, photo-ops, games, prizes, food and more.
October 25 and 26 will feature the group’s main event, the haunted house. There are many talented people creating, building, painting, and fabricating for this event. Many objects have been donated to help make it possible, and many volunteers are acting the parts of the ghostly characters within.
“We’ve been told we’re scarier than Forest of Fear and Headless Horseman!” said John Bender.
To find out more information or to support Haunt for Hospice, check out their website at www.HauntforHospice.com.
[note – an earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Joan Bender as Cindy Bender. Cindy is the daughter of the late Joan Bender]