Use one of the most commercial holidays of the year to teach your kids about service!
Every Halloween in America, children get to suspend all belief and enter another world where math homework and 8pm bedtimes don’t exist. Little girls turn into princesses, boys become brave firefighters, and everyone indulges in too many sugary sweets without the dentist’s disapproving glare. But while in the United States we celebrate this make-believe realm, there’s no masking the reality of less privileged children across the globe.
There are ways to make your child’s trick-or-treating experience much more meaningful than just collecting bags full of sweets. By participating in the lauded Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program, not only will your kids learn the importance of fundraising and having a global impact, but they will gain an invaluable sense of self-worth through helping other children across the world.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF was founded by the United Nations Children’s Fund in 1950. Its main purpose was to bring awareness to the plight of children in underprivileged countries around the world and to create involvement for those more fortunate to lend a hand while still having fun. Beyond getting your children involved, you can use the occasion of Halloween to instill in them some key financial lessons.
“For American children and parents, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF offers an impactful way to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children,” says UNICEF ambassador Selena Gomez. In addition to her well-known day jobs—as actress and singer—Selena is an inspiration to younger kids. In her capacity, for the third year in a row, as spokesperson for UNICEF’s Trick-or-Treat program, she proves that no matter what your age, one person can make a difference. Check out Selena's current work campaigning to save lives in West and Central Africa here.
On her first official field mission for UNICEF, Selena Gomez traveled to Ghana in West Africa.
From Pennies to Pounds
It’s important to teach kids about fundraising and charity at a young age, and hopefully every parent finds unique ways to do so throughout the year. What UNICEF can help you do this month is to demonstrate to your children—in very concrete ways—the value of money.
Most children have a hard time envisioning how far their money can go, and generally think their impact is small (or goes unnoticed!). With every penny kids collect, though, parents can show them the far-reaching worth. No doubt, they’ll be surprised with how much a box full of change can do for another life.
There are over 7 billion people in the world, and about a third of them are children. Painting a picture for your kids of exactly who needs aid, and how, helps them grasp the significance of their fundraising efforts.
One in every four people in the world lives on less than $1.25 a day. For your child, that may translate to one pack of baseball cards, one bottle of water, one ballpoint pen, or a mere handful of popcorn at the movie theater. In the approximately 150 countries aided by UNICEF funding, on the other hand, that money can be stretched farther, and often have life-saving consequences.
- 50 cents provides an educational exercise book and a pencil for a child’s classroom use
- $1 can provide 24 protein biscuits for a starving child
- $17 allows a kid to stay safe from 6 fatal diseases
- $18.75 supplies 3 bed nets to protect a family from mosquitoes carrying malaria
- $26.50 donates a lifesaving first aid kit
- $60 buys a School-in-a-Box kit to give a child the promise of education
- $600 provides a lifesaving amount of peanut paste to feed 400 malnourished children
Make connections for your child to bring home the grand significance of the above examples. Does your 6-year-old love his stories at bedtime? Have him imagine that for less than a dollar, a child with no other access to such storybooks will be provided with one like his own. Do you have a tween who dreams of being a nurse or doctor someday? Explain about the ease with which she was vaccinated as a child, and how it is an expectation for all healthy babies in our country. Then describe how in many villages around the world, vaccinations are a luxury—yet, through her efforts, can be given to another young girl across the globe who might otherwise get sick; yes, she can save someone’s life now!
The Power of One
How about water? Certainly it’s something even most adults here take for granted, but more than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. A “billion” is not a concept easily grasped, however—so have your child go without drink for an hour or two, and discuss what it would really be like to not have it at all, even in severe heat conditions. Explain that up to a third of disease globally is thought to be caused by environmental factors such as polluted water and air.
Log on to www.unicef.org/voy, the group’s Voices of Youth site, to play an educational game called Water Alert together. In addition to highlighting the serious issues related to safe drinking water, children can fill out an online form to send to the Secretary of State for International Development requesting more aid for water and sanitation—teaching them another way to use the “power of one” to affect change in the world.
How to Get Involved
Your child’s elementary or middle schools may already host the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program. If so, about a week before Halloween, teachers will pass out the signature small orange boxes in class designed by UNICEF with festive decorations and a slot for collecting coins.
If your child’s school is not already partnered with UNICEF: Learn more and download or order all the necessities for participation at trickortreatforunicef.org. Parents and teachers can alternatively set up an online collection to enable children to notify friends and family of the cause and acquire donations anytime throughout the year.
By trick-or-treating with UNICEF, your children can proudly help educate, feed, and medically treat children less privileged than themselves. That beats chocolate any day.