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Reverse trick-or-treating: Yokota volunteers will bring Halloween spirit to kids in quarantine

A volunteer group called Yokota COVID-19 Errands Run is gearing up to deliver Halloween treats to children stuck in quarantine at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

OSAKABE YASUO/U.S. AIR FORCE

By ERICA EARL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 16, 2020

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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The children of service members who’ll find themselves quarantined over Halloween at the home of U.S. Forces Japan may still have treats to look forward to thanks to the Yokota Covid-19 Errands Run group.

Sophie Cox and her husband, Master Sgt. Anthony Cox of the 374th Airlift Wing, started the group after they were quarantined in March following their return from temporary duty in Okinawa.

Yokota COVID-19 Errands Run Group connects people in restriction of movement with volunteers willing to run essential errands, such as picking up food and hygiene items.

For Halloween, the group is coordinating a special reverse trick-or-treat event Oct. 31 in which costumed volunteers will deliver candy to the doorsteps of those quarantined in on-base housing, temporary tower units and the Kanto Lodge.

Volunteers will also deliver stickers, balloons and stamps for Halloween decorations.

Sophie Cox wants to bring some Halloween spirit to those who may feel left out, particularly children who will be stuck inside for the holiday.

“I always think about children in quarantine,” she said. “We don’t have kids, but I know they are quite active and want to be included with their peers.”

Cox estimated that 30 children in quarantine are signed up for the reverse trick-or-treating. All new arrivals to Japan with the U.S. military or travelers returning from abroad must spend at least 14 days in quarantine and test clear of the coronavirus before exiting.

Although the trick-or-treat event is dubbed Halloween Drops for Tots, it is not just for families with kids. Any service member or civilian in quarantine on base can sign up to receive a visit from volunteers by joining Yokota COVID-19 Errands Run on Facebook and requesting a trick-or-treat bag.

Costumes are not required, but are encouraged to spread some cheer, especially for the kids who don’t get to go door to door this year, Cox said.

Yokota commissary manager Gene Davis donated candy in bulk for the event, she said. Donations of candy or money for the event may also be made through the Yokota Spouses Club, which chose Halloween Drops for Tots as one of its official October fundraisers.

Sophie Cox said the errands group snowballed once the Defense Department resumed troop movements over the summer. The page now has over 900 members, with more volunteers than people on quarantine.

When the errands system proved successful, Cox said she started thinking about ways to help families in quarantine who may miss out on special events.

“It’s definitely a unique year, and we want people to still be able to have good memories,” she said. “For Halloween, we want kids to still have that feeling of excitement when filling their candy baskets to the brim.”

Halloween has traditionally been a fairly large occasion at Yokota in which the installation has allowed sponsored Japanese families onto the base to participate in the American tradition of trick-or-treating.

Because of the coronavirus, only DOD cardholders are allowed to trick-or-treat on base this year.

Cox and her husband said they are eyeing events for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays if quarantine protocols are still in place over those holidays.

earl.erica@stripes,com
Twitter: @ThisEarlGirl