A Halloween Dream in New Orleans

There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate Halloween in New Orleans. You can parade with Krewe of Boo. Take in frighteningly creative costumes in the French Quarter. Cheer on Tulane football in “Ghoulman” Stadium.

But Tulane Law alumna Kelsey Meeks (L ’10) spent Halloween a little differently. This year, she launched ‘WEEN DREAM, a national nonprofit that makes Halloween accessible to kids in need. The New Orleans-based organization matches new and gently used costumes with children whose families otherwise couldn’t provide them.

'WEEN DREAM founder Kelsey Meeks (L '10) helped costume baby Kanye as a giraffe, allowing him and mom Kiara to celebrate Halloween in style. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Meeks.

‘WEEN DREAM founder Kelsey Meeks (L ’10) helped costume baby Kanye as a giraffe, allowing him and mom, Kierra, to celebrate Halloween in style.
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Meeks.

Meeks, a Wall, Bullington & Cook attorney and lifelong Halloween devotee, said she founded the organization believing that all children should get to participate in Halloween – regardless of the financial, medical or personal difficulties they may face at home.

“Every other day of the year may be out of their control, but Halloween belongs to kids,” she said. “It’s the one special day when they can be whoever or whatever they want.”

In its first year, ‘WEEN DREAM costumed 580 kids across seven states, the majority in Louisiana. The nonprofit made it happen with $1500 in monetary contributions and donated costumes – many from Tulane Law
alumni. Even the Tulane Law Review’s senior
board pitched in to outfit a child.

But there’s more to be done. Even though ‘WEEN DREAM provided hundreds of costumes this season, over 800 kids applied. The group lacked the resources to outfit them all.

Meeks’ game plan? The Louisiana State Bar Association already helped ‘WEEN DREAM set up post-Halloween costume drop locations statewide. The organization is planning pilot programs in other cities to expand donations nationally. The group is also throwing a black-tie costume party/fundraiser on March 28 at the Mortuary Haunted House – where part of the haunted house will be up and running.

Meeks has much work ahead to meet her goal of costuming all of next year’s applicants, but she said she’s proud of what ‘WEEN DREAM accomplished so far.

'WEEN DREAM Board Members Valerie Gernhauser (L '09), Kelsey Meeks (L '10), Alli Scott Craig and Tara Benoit-Rodrigue (a 2014 Tulane Continuing Studies grad) sort donated garb so kids in need can dress up for Halloween. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

‘WEEN DREAM Board Members Valerie Gernhauser (L ’09), Kelsey Meeks (L ’10), Alli Scott Craig and Tara Benoit-Rodrigue (a 2014 Tulane Continuing Studies grad) sort donated garb so kids in need can dress up for Halloween. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano.

And she credits much of the group’s success to legal skills. The nonprofit’s board members include three other attorneys (Valerie Gernhauser is a 2009 Tulane Law grad) and a paralegal, and they were able to file all their own incorporating and tax exemption documents.

Meeks said her law school experiences — gaining interest in public service, learning to lead others and developing organizational skills on the Tulane Law Review — prepared her to launch ‘WEEN DREAM.

“What I did at Tulane Law gave me the confidence to go out and build this organization instead of waiting and hoping someone else would start it,” she said.

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