Halloween Hot Dog Donors ‘Hometown Heroes’
For the past 19 years, Michele and Hal Bergeron, of Schenectady, have been helping the children of their community not only have a fun Halloween night, but one that includes a full meal.
After noticing that many children had little else to eat but candy on that night, the couple started "The Bergerons' Annual Halloween Hot Dogs," serving between 400 and 600 hot dogs within a four-hour period to neighborhood children. They also serve cupcakes and cider and make sure no child or family goes hungry that night.
The Bergerons' event has grown so big that people from throughout the community have volunteered to help out with the effort.
As part of the “Hometown Heroes” series, we’ve partnered with County Waste and Latham Ford to celebrate local unsung heroes for their good deeds and honorable work.
We asked Michele and Hal a few questions about their event. Here’s what they had to say:
Q: What inspires you to host "Halloween Hot Dogs" every year for the local children?
A: About 20 years ago, we watched children from our daughter’s school go trick-or-treating without having anything substantial to eat. The only meal would be candy and whatever treats they collected that night. It was heartbreaking to watch and that’s when we decided we would never give candy out again and started "The Bergerons' Annual Halloween Hot dogs." Also Halloween is at the end of the month and we know many families are without benefits, so food is scarce or limited.
Q: What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?
A: The smiles that are on the faces of the children and parents as they return each year. The respect that we receive from the families we serve each year is what keeps us going, knowing that they appreciate what we do.
Q: What are some challenges?
A: The weather is so unpredictable, but we still do it rain, sleet or snow-just like the mailman. Another challenge for us is trying to serve more people than we did the previous year. For example, last year we gave out 370 hot dogs, this year is a BIG year because it’s our 20th year – so we want to go big.
Q: Do you consider yourself a "hero?" Why or why not?
A: Absolutely not. What we do we do because we are a part of a community. Hal and I were both raised in Hamilton Hill in a time when the community took responsibility for itself. We believe that it takes a village to raise a child and we look at it as a way to say "thank you" and give back to Hamilton Hill for helping us raise our children. Our children are also very well known in our community for their support and volunteer work and, honestly, we could have not done it without the people who helped. We believe that it isn’t where you live but how you live your life that counts and hope that others will follow our lead with acts that will build our community back to what it once was.