Good Witches flying high over 11th annual Trick or Toy event

October2011_CoverGood Witches flying high over 11th annual Trick or Toy event

Halloween is right around the corner and for charity event planners Sidney Faust and Cora Sue Mach, that means looking forward to one of their most exciting parties of the year. For the 11th year in a row, the dynamic duo are throwing their Trick or Toy Halloween Party to help collect toys for the Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s holiday party. 

The annual party transforms Faust’s River Oaks home into a festive Halloween diorama of sorts, where there is hardly a wall or tabletop without pumpkins, witch dolls, skeletons and other fun creations of spooks, ghouls and goblins. Each year, upwards of 200 party guests see jagged tombstones in the front yard, made to look like a cemetery.

“It’s undoubtedly our favorite event each year,” said Mach, who along with Faust, co-chair the event. “The best part is the wonderful array of toys that we collect for the patients at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.”       

“Practically every inch of the house is decorated – every tabletop,” added Faust. “The fun is seeing how everybody is dressed, and the toys mounting outside on the front lawn as the guests walk up and add more new toys to the pile. People have a genuinely good time at this party.”



Those invited each year are asked to bring a toy. One by one, the gifts are added to a growing pile creating an impressive display of charity. The toys are eventually brought to the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and distributed before Christmas. Last year’s Halloween party raised 261 toys for the children.

Adding to the fun are the presence of a tarot card reader, handwriting analyst and palm reader. 

“This is so popular that this year we’re adding an additional palm reader,” said Faust. “People will not go home until they’ve had their fortune told, and for many who have been coming all these years, it’s almost like a yearly checkup with the doctor,” she joked.  There’s also a massage therapist offering shoulder massages while the partygoers wait in line for the readings.

The history of this annual event dates back to the turn of the new millennium. “We were asked to get the toys, and we didn’t just want to hold a fundraiser or a toy ball,” explained Faust. “Since Harry Potter was just starting and really popular back then, we decided to do a Halloween party with a Harry Potter theme, and that’s how we really got going.”
The first year, only Faust, Mach and one other guest dressed in costumes. Today, almost all of the party-goers don creative and colorful garb. 

The party has consistently sported a witch theme, with past themes, including Witches of the West, Jungle Witches, Harry Potter-inspired witches and traditional Cauldron Cooking Witches. This year, it’s Pirate Witches of the Caribbean, a takeoff from the popular movie series Pirates of the Caribbean. 

“No doubt, someone will be sporting the likes of character Captain Jack Sparrow,” noted Faust.
Sidney Faust and Cora Sue Mach became fast friends in 1995 when they were asked to be Founding Members of BRASS, Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine. 

“We immediately bonded,” said Mach. “We had so much in common and really understood each other’s thoughts and feelings.”
The women have co-chaired many events, including the Chic Boutique for the Salvation Army, the Baylor Partnership Gala, the Women’s Health Summit for BCM and the Cornerstone Dinner for Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. 

“We have worked on more committees together than we can count or even remember,” said Mach. “We work so well together, sometimes thinking the same thoughts at the same time. We feel comfortable enough in being able to speak xanax information for each other. You know you can’t always work that well with another person.”

“We’re a well-oiled machine,” added Faust. “We’ve chaired many, many events together in Houston.”

At first, Faust and her staff decorated her home for the Halloween party, but in recent years Houston event planners Steven Wagner and Paul Hensley have taken over. The staff, however, still adds the mock tombstones and other cemetery decorations to the front and back yards. 

“The one thing I’ve noticed while doing this for 11 years is how Halloween more and more has become such an important holiday,” said Faust. “It’s so much easier to find decorations now than in years past. In fact, I have more than I need; then every year I see something else, and it’s hard for me not to want to add to it.” 

The toys are brought to the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and distributed in early December during a clinic day, where children are coming in for treatment or meeting with doctors – sometimes to get their first diagnosis.

“We put all toys out, and then every child can get one,” said Faust. “Mr. and Ms. Santa Claus are always there, and the children get their photos taken with Santa Claus.” The young patients are provided with a “kid-friendly” lunch, including the likes of chicken tenders, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese and cookies. A magician, face painter, clown and penguin puppets provide the entertainment. 

“Once those children pick up their toys, we put all remaining toys on a cart and go with Mr. and Ms. Santa to visit the rooms of children too sick to come out,” she added. The most popular toys include stuffed animals, dolls, arts and crafts and games.
“You’re dealing with children who are sick and often bedridden, so you have to consider things they can do in bed,” said Faust. “So much of it is things they can do in the hospital.” 

Since 1999, Sidney Faust and her husband, Don Faust, have also organized retreats at their ranch for the children patients, their siblings and their parents. This October, they’re celebrating their 50th retreat.

“By working with these children, I’ve become very aligned with the need to do as much as we can to provide the funds and to help these children and their parents,” said Sidney Faust. “You learn how courageous they are when you see what these kids and their parents go through. Some of these kids have had extended stays in the hospital.” 

Faust is also helping the families raise money for hospital parking through “Paddles for Parking,” where people write their donations on the back of bidding paddles used in auctions. “Imagine paying for parking every day for months,” she said. “We’re really excited about this because it’s such a huge need.”

“Anytime you’re around these children and their parents, you cannot help but be touched,” she added. “I think any time you can step out of yourself and know that someone else is going to benefit in some way – whether it’s getting a toy or a kind word or attention – it just comes back to you. It’s like a gift to you that warms your heart and kind of gives you purpose in life.”

Editor’s Note: Houston Woman Magazine wants to help collect toys for the patients at Texas Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Center and is offering its office as a collection center. If you would like to donate a toy (or toys), please bring them to 1973 W. Gray, Suite 9, Houston, TX 77019 by November 18. The office is open Mondays thru Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you need to deliver toys on another day or time, please call us at 713-780-2098 to make special arrangements.