(HN, October 28, 2010) -- This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of UNICEF's `Trick-or-Treat’ campaign, symbolized by the iconic orange collection box that millions of school children in the US carry around each Halloween.
The campaign - where children go door-to-door to collect sweets and donations - has raised $160 million over the past 60 years, averaging about $4 million-a-year.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF started as an ad hoc fundraising effort by a group of kids in Philadelphia in 1950, who wanted to raise money for children suffering from the after-effects of World War II. That year, $17 was collected in home-decorated milk cartons, and earmarked for powdered milk for European children.
That initiative turned into one of America's longest-running youth initiatives, raising donations for UNICEF's work in more than 150 countries for items ranging from water purification tablets and insecticide-treated bednets, to high nutrition biscuits and vaccines.
In 2005, in response to the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the campaign raised a record $18.25 million.
Today, at the Silver Oak Elementary School in San Jose, CA, Michael Bociurkiw, who has worked for UNICEF in several regions of the world, and most recently in Lesotho, addressed 400 children in grades fourth to sixth about UNICEF and his work in the field. He described carrying the Trick-or-Treat box as a child, and what it's like to work in the field, in often the most challenging and inhospitable conditions.
Silver Oak raised more than $4,300 in donations last year - and about $30,600 since 1999.
Bociurkiw spoke about Lesotho in southern Africa, and how UNICEF is helping children there battle the HIV and AIDS epidemic; and, about efforts to keep children, especially orphans, in school. The mountain kingdom of 2-million people has the third-highest HIV infection rate in the world and suffers from poverty, malnutrition and joblessness.
Bociurkiw also cited recent success in battling polio in Nigeria, where according to UNICEF the number of cases has plummeted this year by more than 90 percent, compared to last year.
This year, UNICEF has recruited its youngest Goodwill Ambassador, teen sensation Selena Gomez, to promote UNICEF's Trick-or-Treat campaign.
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have placed its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, (the goddess of fruits and seeds), or in the Festival of the Dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end".
The word Halloween is first noted in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling "Hallowe'en" was frequently used, eliding the "v" and shortening the word.
Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations, particularly the commercial elements which have extended Halloween to places such as South America, Australia, Europe, and Japan as well as to other parts of East Asia. (VIA WIKIPEDIA)
---- HUMNEWS staff