Halloween has a mixed bag of reviews. Some in the world see it as evil and pure pagan, against their God and all they believe in. Some “celebrate” it just for fun, they get exciting when they start to plan their outfits, bake their cakes, prepare the apples and just in general its excitement in Capitals. Others don’t even know of its existence.
Those others are ten to one kids that have less than one meal a day, lie in shacks, don’t go to school because either there aren’t any around or their parents can’t afford them. Their clothes are torn and their lives are lived on less than $1 a day.
Back in 1950 in the city of Philadelphia, USA, a group of school children decided to go door-to-door at Halloween collecting money in decorated milk cartons to help the world’s children. Those children started a tradition that I hope will never end but rather continue to spread into other festivals, holidays and the likes there of… the tradition of ‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ was born.
They raised a grand total of $17, kicking off a campaign that has since brought in more than $188 million to provide medicine, better nutrition, clean water, education, emergency relief and other support to children in more than 160 countries.
Millions of children now participate each year in Halloween-related fund-raising campaigns in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Mexico and Hong Kong.
But in these campaigns, children go far beyond trick or treating in scary costumes with the familiar orange collection boxes in hand. Children and young people take part in various fun and educational events that help them gain a better understanding of child rights and the challenges facing children around the world – including poverty, killer diseases and armed conflict. They help stage events to raise funds and increase awareness about these issues, and in doing so learn that they can help change the world.
Perhaps I am a bit late in telling you about this, perhaps you know of it already… if you want to participate grab a little orange box or or something to collect money in, speak to the school near you.. perhaps they are involved and collecting funds.
For those that believe Halloween to be bad… lets put the past behind us and take a look at the tradition as it stands today, it’s not of the past, it is of the now.
In the USA
‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ is a 53 year “young” education and fundraising initiative that gives U.S. kids, along with their parents and teachers, the opportunity to learn about their peers worldwide who are truly in need and to raise money on their behalf.
U.S. children have collected $119 million by going door-to-door with the trademark orange collection boxes on Halloween and by planning fundraisers with their school or group.
In Canada, the 2003 ‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ campaign is underway with donation boxes on retail counters, teachers ordering UNICEF boxes and educational materials, and children gearing up for the Halloween collection.
This year, children and young people will learn about the true story of Selamawit, a girl who, during the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, told a UNICEF worker that when she grew up she wanted to be “Alive.”
‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ has been a proud Canadian tradition since 1955. The campaign is recognized by the Government of Canada through the permanent declaration of 31 October as National UNICEF Day.
This year, about 8,000 children from 14 schools in Mexico City and in the states of Morelos and Nayarit will “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” an initiative now in its fourth year in Mexico and known here as “Ayudando a Niños como Yo” (Helping children like me).
Participating primary school students collect coins from family members, friends and neighbours to help the UNICEF-supported project “Escuela Amiga” (Child-friendly schools), which seeks to help all Mexican children, without exception, achieve a good-quality education.
“Helping children like me” has a double objective: it raises funds for UNICEF and it raises awareness among children who attend private schools in Mexico about the situation of thousands of children who don’t have the same educational opportunities as they do.
In Hong Kong
“Trick or Treat for UNICEF” was introduced in Hong Kong in 2001. With the enthusiastic support of children and the general public, $130,000 has been raised for improving the well-being of the neediest children worldwide. The campaign continues this year, with the hope that “kids helping kids,” by collecting donations instead of candies, can become a tradition in Hong Kong.