On October 31, FLEX alumni in Lithuania celebrated Halloween a little bit differently: they trick or treated in reverse! Alumni baked cookies together and handed them out to passers-by on the streets of Vilnius, offering them a treat in exchange for a sincere trick, a donation for the Rugutė Foundation. Alumni Coordinator Aida Mazyte ’17 initiated this event to share the Halloween tradition with fellow Lithuanians while also contributing positively to the community. Therefore, on the morning of October 31, representatives from the Rugutė’s Foundation gladly met with the alumni, and it soon started to smell like cookies…

What is the Rugutė Foundation?

The alumni baked cookies together in thoughtful contemplation of contribution they were making toward a worthy cause. The Rugutė Foundation is an organization established in Lithuania 15 years ago by two parents who lost their child to cancer. The couple, Dainoras and Edita, work to spread information about cancer within Lithuania, a country which suffers from a limited amount of research being translated into Lithuanian. They also raised money to buy medication for children with cancer, even raising enough to send some to other countries for surgical procedures. Lastly, the Rugute Foundation also provides accommodations for families from outside Vilnius during their children’s chemotherapy treatment. This shelter, which offers several bedrooms and a modest kitchen, is where the alumni baked cookies for the event.

The aftermath of the cookie baking.

Through several hours of effective teamwork, the alumni made four kinds of cookies: coconut, almond, chocolate chip, and sugar. After final touches to their Halloween costumes were made, all left the office for the fundraising adventure.

It was a cold and windy day in Vilnius, but the alumni stayed positive!  In only two hours, the alumni fundraised over 100 dollars with the help of kind-hearted people and delicious cookies. The sweets and the idea of finding a meaningful way to celebrate Halloween in Lithuania received many compliments and put smiles on several faces on that grey afternoon.

Movie time!

Once the cold winds colored the alumni noses red, they set off for the American Councils office in Vilnius. After drinking some tea and finding a cozy spot on a couch, alumni watched the American Halloween classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, with some popcorn and pizza.

The alumni were happy with the results of the event; they had fun and developed new connections within the community. Most importantly, though, they felt good for making a positive change and helping others.

Written by Aida Mazyte ’18