By Kristen Mascia
Updated November 09, 2009 12:00 PM

Emma Rose Shapiro, 12

Norristown, Pa.

Last spring Emma Rose Shapiro was cleaning her closet when she came upon a box of outgrown Halloween costumes filled with hula skirts, leotards and Hannah Montana outfits. Remembering the fun she’d had wearing them, “I thought, ‘Why don’t I donate them to kids who might not be able to afford them?'” she says.

In May she founded The Halloween Helpers (, to collect gently used and new Halloween costumes. With mom Ilyse, 43, Emma Rose picked up costumes from schools, churches and scout troops, gathering over 2,000 in five months. Then she and a few volunteers (including dad Jonathan, 54, and sister Molly, 7) cleaned, bagged and labeled them in time to host three free-shopping days at the local police athletic league.

Now Aerik Gustaveson, 6, and sister Kyra, 2, are ready to hit the sidewalks decked out as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a princess. “They love them,” says mom Trena, 36, whose husband just returned to work at a machine manufacturing company after a five-month layoff. “Now I don’t have to decide, ‘Do I buy costumes or fill up the car?'” Says Rosemary De La Luz, 10, who will rock a cheerleader outfit: “I’m thankful.”