'Tis the season of receiving holiday cards, and Glenbard South High School student Scottie Schneider is no exception.
But for Schneider, the envelopes that fill his living room are not celebrating Christmas; they're for Halloween.
When an extended hospital visit for pneumonia forced Schneider, who has Down syndrome, to miss trick-or-treating on his favorite holiday, his family got to work, spreading the word and encouraging people the world over to send him cards, candy, presents and more.
"We thought it would help ease his sadness a little bit," said Schneider's uncle Bob Hansen, who took to email and social media to ask friends to help his nephew have a happy Halloween, even if he wouldn't get to don the skeleton costume he had already picked out to wear.
Hansen's efforts were shared by Schneider's cousin Jake Infusino, who posted about them on the website Imgur, attracting international attention.
Fast forward to December, and Schneider has sorted through about a third of everything he received, including several packages and more than 1,400 cards from 15 countries, his family said.
While a majority of the mail was delivered around Halloween – 400 cards arrived on the holiday itself – some continues to trickle in.
"It brings you back to reality that people really are good and that love abounds," said Schneider's mom, Camille Partipilo Maco. "People are very, very concerned about one another, and I think that's the important thing to remember."
Schneider said it made him feel special to see what everyone sent him.
Halloween gifts came to his hospital room at Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) in Winfield from 48 states, as well as countries such as Australia, England, Italy and Japan.
In his messages, Hansen told people that besides loving Halloween, Schneider is a big fan of the song "Monster Mash" and McDonald's cheeseburgers. In response, the 21-year-old received many cards that play the spooky song and gift cards for McDonald's.
A manager at a West Chicago McDonald's also sent him a kind letter and coupons for free burgers and sundaes.
"All the love and caring for him was beyond amazing," Hansen said.
Schneider's hospital stay started Oct. 19 when he came down with viruses that escalated to pneumonia in both his lungs, forcing him into the Intensive Care Unit at CDH, where he was put on life support.
While at CDH, he received so much mail that eventually it had to be moved from his hospital room to the Oakbrook Terrace home he shares with his dad and uncles. Schneider also lives part of the time with his mom and stepdad in Carol Stream.
Overall, he was hospitalized for 5.5 weeks before being released Nov. 26, just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family, where he had an "opening party" to see what he received during his stay.
In addition to all the physical gifts and cards, he also was visited by several of his Glenbard South classmates. Students from Wheaton North High School also sent many cards to Schneider.
His family is planning to have another opening party when everyone is together for Christmas.
Although it may be Christmastime, the Halloween season continues for Schneider, thanks to the support he received from across the globe.
"Every day is Halloween for Scottie," Hansen said.