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Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

By Phyllis

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF began on Halloween in 1950 as a local event in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Sponsored by the U.S. Fund for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the program distributed orange boxes to children to take with them when they went trick or treating asking for small donations of cash in lieu of or in addition to the candy traditionally passed out on Halloween. Although they only collected $17 the first year, in 1950 10 cents would buy 50 glasses of milk for hungry children around the world, so all those nickels and dimes really counted. Trick or Treating for UNICEF spread throughout the United States, subsequently expanding to Canada, Ireland, Mexico and Hong Kong. In 1965, UNICEF won the Nobel Peace Prize, partly as a result of trick or treating.

Over the years, UNICEF became a hit on TV, raising awareness of the program. In 1959, Lassie carried a UNICEF collection box on her show. In 1969, Bewitched devoted a full episode to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. In the 1980s, characters like Kermit the Frog, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Spiderman and ALF urged kids to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

Early on, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF funded efforts to eradicate polio around the world. The funds also go for health care, safe water, food, education, and emergency relief for children.

American kids raised a record-breaking $18.3 million for relief efforts after the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Altogether, the American Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program has raised more than $180 million for UNICEF's lifesaving activities.

To find out how to become a part of Trick or Treat for UNICEF or to donate, go to,kit%20and%20use%20hashtag%20%23ToT4UNICEF.

Image by Mayur Gadge from Pixabay


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