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Kids helping Kids: Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, 70 Years Later

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Trick or treat for UNICEF

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Halloween will be a little different in 2020 including the absence of UNICEF’s iconic orange collection boxes. But Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will still happen, virtually. (Photo: UNICEF USA)

On Halloween nights throughout the years, among all the cute witches, ghosts, princesses and superheroes carrying plastic jack-o-lantern buckets, pillowcases and grocery bags to collect candy, you have probably seen the iconic orange boxes to collect a different kind of treat – donations for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF started on Halloween 1950 when a group of Philadelphia trick-or-treaters collected nickels and dimes in decorated milk cartons to help kids in Europe affected by World War II. They collected a total of $17 and sent it to UNICEF, which inspired the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF tradition.

Now celebrating its 70th year, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is the longest-running youth engagement campaign in America and has raised more than $180 million dollars to help UNICEF support children with healthcare, nutrition, safe water, education, emergency relief and more. Donations support UNICEF's global and domestic programs, such as aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Halloween will be a little different this year including the absence of UNICEF’s orange collection boxes. But the good news is that Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will still happen, just in a new and socially-distanced way. 

Bella Kalra, Kush Kalra

Bella and Kush Kalra are getting in the Halloween spirit and excited for this year’s virtual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. They both appreciate how the initiative gives them the opportunity to help other kids around the world.

This year, UNICEF USA launched the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF virtual experience, an online resource offering a new way to have a safe, fun and meaningful Halloween from home. Even if you can’t go door-to-door, you can still make a difference for children around the world. The virtual campaign kicked off Oct. 1 and continues through Nov. 15. 

Parents or teachers can register and create online profiles here and they will receive a customized link and QR code. Children can participate in fun activities and watch educational videos to earn Trick-or-Treat Coins, which add up to real-life donations. As coins are collected, children can indicate where they would like their earnings to go, empowering them and connecting their efforts to positive impact for children around the world. 

Two Bellaire trick-or treaters who are big fans of UNICEF are Bella Kalra, who attends Lanier Middle School, and her brother, Kush, a Condit Elementary student. 

Bella shared, “Virtual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a wonderful program. The donations help feed vulnerable children, abolish climate change and fund many other important causes. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a delightful way to help children have a happy Halloween, despite the pandemic, and a way to support children all around the world.” 

Kush said he was particularly excited to participate because he’s seen commercials about UNICEF. “I thought it was so amazing that UNICEF could help so many kids around the world! It’s nice to do virtual trick-or-treating because we are trying to keep each other safe and healthy.”

In addition to the virtual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, Bella has been participating in various UNICEF programs since the start of the pandemic. 

Isabel Munro, Maya Kadia, Bella Kalra,

Friends Isabel Munro (on left), a sixth grader at Trafton Academy, Maya Kadia (on right), a sixth grader at St. John’s School and Bella Kalra (center), a sixth grader at Lanier, teamed up to create a song about climate song for UNICEF’S #CreateForChange project. All three will participate in the virtual trick-or-treat initiative. 

Bella and her friends Maya Kadia and Isabel Munro worked together to write, sing and play piano and guitar for an original song about climate change called “Save the Day.” They submitted it to the #CreateForUNICEF project, which asked participants to create a simple message of positivity and encouragement for children around the world. The song was awarded the best submission in the music category and was featured at UNICEF USA’s Climate Change Summit. Watch their video here. All three plan to participate in the virtual trick-or-treat program this month. 

Over the summer, Bella also created a kindness sign fundraising project allowing people to create yard signs with positive messages to share with their neighbors. All proceeds from sign sales went to UNICEF USA.

Bella said, “Working with UNICEF has truly made me a better person.” 

Whatever your Halloween might look like this year, whether it’s the traditional candy giving to neighborhood trick-or-treaters, staying inside to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or virtually sharing coins to help kids on the other side of the globe, may the joy of happy children inspire toothy Jack-O-Lantern grins for the kid inside of all of us.

Editor’s note: Bella and Kush recently participated in our Name That Tune series. See their Q&A, including links to their videos, here

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