PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia teacher and her family are continuing the tradition of collecting and donating thousands of gently-used Halloween costumes for kids across the country.
Emma Rose Shapiro, the founder of non-profit The Halloween Helpers, never skips the opportunity to take part in the holiday.
"We are helping to spread the joy of Halloween so that each and every kid has a Halloween costume," Emma said.
This labor of love came to life when Emma said she was just 11-years-old in search of ways to donate her old costumes.
"I've always loved Halloween. I'm 26 and I still dress up for Halloween. I'm in my pumpkin pie costume," Emma said.
Shapiro said as a kid, she couldn't find an organization that only collected costumes, so she held drives of her own.
"The costumes, they kept coming and we're not going to say 'no.' In the best way possible, we had no choice but to keep going," Emma said.
Due to high demand, Emma's mom, Ilyse Shapiro, helped her start a non-profit and called it "The Halloween Helpers."
"I really just encouraged her to collect maybe 100 costumes and at that time we collected more than 2,000," said Ilyse.
Now nearly 15 years later, The Halloween Helpers have surpassed 20,000 costumes since starting out.
"It's really amazing how generous people are in this country," said Ilyse.
Today, they're partnering with about 40 organizations across the country that submit requests for costumes to go to kids of all ages and sizes.
The Shapiros collect mostly gently-worn or brand new costumes from families and then ship them out for free to those in need.
There are multiple ways to help: You can donate money, or volunteer to help sort and label everything.
Someone interested in helping could also hold costume drives at schools, businesses or even camps to help get the word out.
"The week after Halloween, Nov. 1 - 8, we would love to get costumes before they go up to the musty attic or down to the dingy basement," said Ilyse. "We ask for financial contributions as well through our website, TheHalloweenHelpers.com. The money helps us pay for the UPS, the boxes for these costumes [and] the bags."
This venture helped shape Emma into who she is today.
"I'm also a teacher at the end of the day, and I love kids and want to make sure they all feel a part of the greater community," Emma said.
The chemistry teacher solved the formula for success with help from her parents, sister, and the community.
"Thank you, we appreciate you," Emma added.