The theater troupes from all three Hilliard high schools will be out trick-or-treating on Halloween, because hunger is a scary thing.

The theater troupes from all three Hilliard high schools will be out trick-or-treating on Halloween, because hunger is a scary thing.

More than 100 costumed students will collect canned and dry foods from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31. It will be donated to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank the next day. In exchange for a food donation, donors will get a $1 off coupon for the high schools’ fall shows.

The food collection is officially called “Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat” (TOTS-EAT), and it is the International Thespian Society’s major annual service project. All three high schools are members of the society, which is a division of the Cincinnati-based Educational Theatre Association.

This is the ninth year for TOTS-EAT, said Kathleen Taylor, marketing manager for the Educational Theatre Association.

“TOTS-EAT actually started with our chapter in Kansas and they had great success with it,” Taylor said. “Once we realized that there seemed to be a real desire among our troupes to engage in this sort of community service, we took it national. Each year we have been adding to the total.”

Last year, 319 troupes from 38 states collected a record-breaking 348,065 pounds of food. Taylor said this year’s goal is 375,000 pounds.

For each of the last two years, Hilliard students from the three high schools have collected a ton of food. That’s no exaggeration, said Diana Vance, performing arts facilitator at Davidson.

“They actually weigh our truck with everything in it and without it, and certify what we turned in so we know our poundage,” she said.

The students have fun collecting the food, often using red wagons to pull their haul to the collection point at Darby High School, and watching the donation tally. “Maybe they don’t think their few cans make a difference, but when they see the pile, it’s pretty cool,” Vance said. “They feel good about what they’ve done.”

Other communities across the state also collect food for TOTS-EAT, she said. “It’s the whole idea of doing Ohio proud, because Ohio as a state usually donates a lot. Midwesterners are very generous.”

It’s not just the theater program that does annual service projects like TOTS-EAT at Davidson, Vance said. “There are service requirements for some of the courses, where the kids have to do volunteer work as part of the course,” she said. “I couldn’t even begin to list everything (that’s done).”