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A Trick-or-Treat Charitable Tradition

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When you were a kid, did you ever Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF with the iconic orange box? That tradition started in 1950 when Mary Emma Allison, a school librarian, saw a UNICEF booth in a department store while shopping for winter coats for her children. The booth inspired an idea and Mary Emma drafted her three children into service going door-to-door collecting coins that Halloween.

"We were real little, and my mother was behind us, and we were trying to explain it, and there were these memories of terror, actually," said daughter Mary Jean Thomson. "But people are generous. We got money and candy, so my parents knew it was a go." [source]

The first year they collected $17 which they donated to UNICEF to help children in postwar Europe. What started as a family activity spread to the local community and in 1953, the U.S. Committee for UNICEF took the campaign national. By 2010, the year of Mary Emma's death, the campaign had raised $160 million.

"If you tell children how much power they have — a dime can buy 50 glasses of milk — that's really kind of powerful," Thomson said.

Photo: U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Flickr photostream: Historical Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

For me, fundraising and communications go together like peanut butter and jelly – delicious & filling!

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