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Costume exchange
a pirate
A child shows off a pirate costume, complete with hook, at Saturdays annual Kiwanis Costume Exchange. This was the sixth year for the club and the Great Bend Public Library to host an event for recycling kids costumes. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

They entered the basement as ordinary children, but walked out as skeletons. Or ninja turtles, witches and clowns.
Dozens of children showed up at the Great Bend Public Library Saturday to choose Halloween costumes. It was the sixth year that the Kiwanis Club and library offered the free exchange, club president Barb Esfeld said.
The exchange was created after Kiwanian Bill McKown heard a little girl’s story about children in her class that did not have costumes for Halloween. “She went to school and told her friends about her costume, then asked what they were going to be, and a couple of her friends were in tears. They couldn’t afford costumes,” Esfeld said.
“Bill decided a costume exchange would make a good Kiwanis project.”
The exchange is open to everyone. After Halloween, people are encouraged to save their costumes so that next year they can donate “gently used” items for the next exchange. New costumes and monetary donations are also welcome.
“At the end of last year we bought 40 costumes as they went on sale,” Esfeld said. “This year we had 50 donated, and Kate and I bought 30 last night.” Kate Wary is president-elect of the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis. “We had fun picking them out.”
Esfeld helped 7-year-old Chloe Ellis add a stethoscope to her “Dr. Makewell” costume. After Brian Mata, 7, found a ninja costume and his cousin Jalene Mata, 8, selected an angel costume, they looked for something Brian’s little brother could wear and settled on a bumble bee.
About 200 children come to the exchange each year. They were also treated to cookies and an orange drink. Most of the children showed up as soon as the doors opened at 1 p.m. An hour later, volunteers searched for missing props and reassembled remaining costumes for the next wave of kids.