Instead of tricking this Halloween, junior- and senior-high students from Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park are treating church members who need help to a free leaf-raking at their homes.
Too often, the holiday becomes an occasion of candy and pranks, said David Huusko, the church's associate pastor, who coordinates the 100-member youth group.
Under his leadership, the church teens are turning the day into a benevolent occasion.
"Instead of begging for candy, we're turning the coin. While everybody else is taking from their neighbors, we're trying to give to our neighbors," Mr. Huusko said.
Junior- and senior-high students from the church will gather Saturday afternoon to rake leaves for elderly or needy church members and neighbors.
Crews of youths will rake yards, then bag the leaves and drag them to the curbs.
Yesterday, youths practiced raking on the church grounds, chattering as they gathered and bagged red and gold leaves.
The teens have an incentive to do good on Halloween. They must rake leaves to go on the church's ski trip in February, Mr. Huusko said.
"Church is fun, but having the attitude of a servant is necessary, too. It's important to have fun, but also to require something of them," he said.
The church has made leaf raking a requirement for the ski trip in past years, and by now, the kids look forward to it.
"Some of them just throw leaves at each other, but many of them work hard, and they all have a good time," Mr. Huusko said.
Saturday's activity will be followed by a Halloween party with a twist -- instead of celebrating the dark and ghoulish, the Woods teens will celebrate life, Mr. Huusko said.
Some Christian churches object to any practice of Halloween, or Allhallow's, one of the biggest nights of the year for practicing witches. The holiday has occult origins in the ancient Druid festivals and marks one of eight witch's sabbats. It traditionally was considered a time when spirits of the dead could revisit the living.
While some Christians react with fear to the day, Mr. Huusko said his church responds with an affirmation of God's presence.
"We celebrate not having to fear death," he said.
"We tend not to celebrate the commercial aspect of Halloween. Instead, we rejoice over what we know -- the fact that we can be joyous and not afraid because Jesus Christ conquered death. Death no longer has power over us."