- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Like most kids, 5-year-old Erik Geier loves candy and Halloween trick-or-treating.

But because Erik is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs, he has to be careful what candies he takes from well-meaning neighbors.

This year, Erik’s mother Brandi Puntney Kucenski is participating in the nationwide Teal Pumpkin Project, a campaign to make trick-or-treating easier for children with food allergies.

She is displaying a teal-colored pumpkin Erik painted, indicating that she’ll have non-food treats to hand out on Halloween to kids with food allergies.

“I take it so seriously,” she said. “People should realize there’s some kids that can’t have the Butterfingers or Snickers that you are passing out.”

Erik is so allergic to peanuts that even the smell can make him sick, and he was once hospitalized when he mistakenly ate a single peanut M&M;, Kucenski told The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1FSsUa7 ).

Because of his age, Erik isn’t always pleased when his two sisters get to rip open their Halloween candy right away while he waits for his mom to sort through his stash and remove potentially dangerous items.

He does know there are foods he’s not supposed to eat, though, and he’s getting used to asking his mom for permission every time he is offered food.

Kucenski’s hoping to use the Teal Pumpkin Project to not only help other kids like Erik have a fun Halloween, but also to educate others about child food allergies.

She plans to pass out pencils, stickers and McDonald’s food coupons to trick-or-treaters with allergies, but she’ll have regular candy available for other kids as well.

“I think it will catch on,” Kucenski said of the Teal Pumpkin Project. “I think people who don’t know about (child food allergies) don’t know it could kill someone.”

To participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, simply set out a teal pumpkin or a sign explaining you’ll have non-food trick-or-treat items, and stock up on small things kids might enjoy.

Food Allergy Research Education Inc., the organization running the Teal Pumpkin Project, recommends handing out glow sticks, mini notepads, bubbles, coins, spider rings, bookmarks, playing cards or other items that can be found at a local dollar store or party supply store.

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Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com


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