For many of us, Halloween means two things: fun costumes and hoards of candy. For Glenview Girl Scouts Troop 40490, Halloween shares a deeper meaning this year. Along with thousands of children around the country, Troop 40490 will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF by collecting donations Oct. 31.
Danielle Bekas and her sisters Caraline and Stephanie are members of the 4th grade troop at Willowbrook Elementary School. Recently, the sisters got together with friends and fellow troop members Anna Shabelman and Hannah Glaser, enthusiastically sharing their excitement for the upcoming fundraising event.
"We are excited about the candy, but also happy and proud that we are trying to help kids have something better," they said. "We just wish they could trick or treat with us!"
Troop leader Mary Bekas is participating in the UNICEF inititave for the first time this year and says she hopes that the experience will help her scouts realize how fortunate they are by helping children who are less privileged.
As part of the Girl Scouts mission, helping others through community involvement serves as a cornerstone, explained troop co-leader Beth Shabelman.
"We believe this experience will show the girls that they can reach out to all areas, even by doing something local and as simple as collecting donations while having fun trick or treating," she said.
Working in more than 150 countries around the world, UNICEF's humanitarian relief efforts provide children with education, health care, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and more. To date, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised nearly $160 million and continues to inspire children to get involved through low-cost, high-impact interventions, said Laura Geiger, development officer for UNICEF's Midwest Regional Office.
"We have seen children actively learning in schools," she said. "We have seen health care facilities that ensure children are strong, healthy and growing. Wherever we go, we see children who are thriving when they might not otherwise be because of the work of UNICEF and partners."
Paul Harvey, chairman for the UNICEF Board of Directors, has traveled to Zambia and Peru, championing fundraising initiatives including Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. During his most recent trip to Peru this past summer, Harvey realized that children worldwide really are no different than children in our communities, he added.
"Yes, there are some faces, some smiles and some tears that I will never forget, but all are children we can help," he said. "Watching the hands of UNICEF workers help these children and help others to learn the importance of support, provides the best hope for a brighter future for the world's children. That in itself provides enough inspiration and dedication to make all that UNICEF does worthwhile."
National support of UNICEF's efforts continued when Toys"R"Us recently emerged as the organizations' first national sponsor. The national toy store chain has pledged a $200,000 grant to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign.
Sloane Lucas, senior manager of corporate philanthropy at Toys"R"Us Inc. shared a variety of ways that Glenview community members can get involved. In addition to visiting local Toys"R"Us or Babies"R"Us stores to pick up an iconic Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF box, stores will also offer an opportunity for trick-or-treaters to design their own Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes at stores across the country Saturday.
"Families have a wonderful opportunity to continue a 60-year-old tradition this Halloween by teaching another generation of children to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF," she said.