John Polacek

Chicago Web Developer

Engineering manager and frontend lead at Howl

My product recommendations at

Shipping open source on Github

Follow me at @johnpolacek

Trick or Treat It Forward

Originally published on 10/25/2020
My kids posing in front of our house with signs for Trick or Treat It Forward

Like many families in 2020, my family has been trying to figure out what to do for Halloween. As Covid-19 cases are starting to rise in the fall, it didn’t seem like a good idea to have batches of trick or treaters at our door. We thought about doing the candy bowl thing, but then came up with something even better.

Instead of passing out candy, this year we will be making donations to Lakeview Pantry, Chicago’s largest food pantry. It is a whole family project. My wife ordered decorations and my boys helped with some art.

As Trick or Treaters walk by, they will see a sign in front of our house that tells them we are making donations instead of giving away candy. They or their chaperones can scan a QR code that points to the Trick or Treat It Forward website. They click an ‘I Was Here’ button to record their check-in. For every check-in, we will make a $5 donation to Lakeview Pantry, up to $200.

Here’s a video of my son Grant testing it out:

Feel free to steal this idea and make it your own! You can check out the demo site at and the source code is on Github. The site is built with the stack I use on pretty much every project these days: Next.js and Firebase, with Theme UI, deployed to Vercel.

Trick or Treat It Forward Website screenshot

Shout out to Mercedes Bernard who made her own version of this idea with Preact and Airtable, also on Github.