Making Halloween Count

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF celebrates its 60th anniversary on Sunday

Oct 29, 2010 | By Vickie An

Kids nationwide will be doing more than collecting sweet treats this Halloween. They'll be helping needy children around the world too. You'll recognize these Halloween helpers by the bright orange donation boxes they'll be carrying. The easy-to-spot box is a signature item of the annual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign.

UNICEF, or the United Nations Children's Fund, was founded in 1946. It was originally created to help children who were struggling from the devastating effects of World War II. Today, the humanitarian organization provides millions of kids all over the globe with clean water, improved nutrition, health care, access to education and emergency assistance.

More than two million children nationwide are expected to take part in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF on Sunday. The Halloween campaign turns 60 this year.

No Tricks, Just Treats

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF got its start with a family in Pennsylvania, in 1950. The year before, shortly after Halloween, Mary Emma Allison and her three children were shopping in downtown Philadelphia when they stumbled upon a UNICEF parade. The colorful march featured kids dressed in costumes representing countries across the globe. A banner caught Allison's eye. It read: "One cent will buy 20 glasses of milk."

The chance encounter gave Allison an idea. Instead of just collecting candy on Halloween, why not do something good and collect money for UNICEF, too? The following Halloween, the Allison family, their neighbors and their church friends went door-to-door with decorated milk cartons, collecting spare change to send to UNICEF. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF was born.

Kids Helping Kids

Today, the annual Halloween drive has raised over $160 million for UNICEF programs in more than 150 countries and territories. Through the years, the program has received support from U.S. Presidents, TV shows, celebrities and more.

One celebrity who is passionate about UNICEF's mission is Wizards of Waverly Place actress Selena Gomez. This Halloween marks Selena's third year as the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF national spokesperson. At 18, the Disney Channel star is UNICEF's youngest ambassador. She hopes to use her role to inspire other young people to take action.

"Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is the original kids-helping-kids campaign," says Selena. "Participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, or any of UNICEF's campaigns, allows me to use my voice and mobilize my peers to be active members of our global community."

Singing for a Cause

On October 26, Selena used her voice in another way by putting on a charity concert for fans in Hollywood, California. She and her band, The Scene, performed acoustic versions of songs from their two albums, A Year Without Rain and Kiss & Tell. Proceeds from the concert will go to supporting UNICEF programs. Selena urged everyone in the audience to carry UNICEF's signature orange collection box when they go trick-or-treating on Sunday.

"With UNICEF, a little bit goes a long way," Selena told TFK. "Every little bit helps ensure that UNICEF can continue its lifesaving work." To learn more, go to trickortreatforunicef.org.