This Halloween, my kids and I will be participating in UNICEF's Trick or Treat for the third year in a row. It's a great way to make Halloween mean something a little more and to establish a family tradition that's not just about candy and tooth decay.

This Halloween also marks the 60th anniversary of UNICEF's Trick or Treat program, where kids collect spare change for other children in poverty around the world.

History of Trick or Treat for UNICEF

The idea of getting America's children to help the world's impoverished children came to Mary Emma Allison 60 years ago while watching a parade. The parade route led to a booth inside a department store where donations were being collected to buy powdered milk for children in need. Over the course a decade, Allison networked churches and community groups together to use Halloween trick or treating as an opportunity for collection of change for those in need. Today, many parents, myself included, use Halloween as a teachable moment to balance out the sugary greed of the evening with something a little more compassionate.

Teaching Children About the Third World

UNICEF's website has a full page devoted to teaching about concerns of developing nations in age-appropriate lesson plans. For example, the Pre-K through 2nd Grade section is on water and sanitation. My kids are learning about what they take for granted — clean water. They are also learning about what happens when there is no clean water and sanitation. They learn that the money they collect will go towards efforts to provide clean water and sanitation to kids their age in other countries. UNICEF will send a brief DVD for your kids to watch, or you can go to the website and watch the video there. The video gives kids a good visual of what is needed and what the donation will cover.

UNICEF donations go to a wide variety of programs, including those to provide emergency aid, medicine, shelter, blankets, water, etc. For more information you can read through their extensive website.

Make UNICEF Part of Your Family Tradition

After three years, my kids now look forward to collecting for UNICEF. My kids really liked the idea of collecting change anyway! They are at the stage where they are learning what money can buy and learning how to count money. It makes it a great learning opportunity.

If you go on the UNICEF website above, there are also suggested ideas for integrating Trick or Treat for UNICEF into your Halloween festivities. There's also a section for Games and Contests.

We just got our UNICEF Trick or Treat boxes in the mail for this year. We are folding them and readying them this week. We will be staffing a booth this year at the local Halloween Carnival, too. We still get a few pieces of candy on Halloween, but the UNICEF boxes really focus the kids on something a little more than momentary sweetness on the tongue. This is a sweetness that really lasts.