All Treat, No Tricks As UNICEF Fundraiser Turns 60 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The little orange boxes carried by kids over the decades have helped raise more than $160 million for the global children's charity.
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All Treat, No Tricks As UNICEF Fundraiser Turns 60

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All Treat, No Tricks As UNICEF Fundraiser Turns 60

All Treat, No Tricks As UNICEF Fundraiser Turns 60

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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For many years now, some people who trick or treat at Halloween aren't just collecting candy, they're also collecting money in little cardboard boxes. Trick or Treat for UNICEF is what it's called. On its 60th anniversary, the United Nation's Children's Fund is unveiling an iPhone application. And the family who had the original idea is still talking it up. NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER: A few years after World War II ended, Mary Emma Allison, the wife of a Presbyterian minister, came upon a UNICEF parade in downtown Philadelphia with a live cow, children dressed in costumes from many lands, and a banner saying one cent will buy 20 glasses of milk. It gave her the idea of collecting for UNICEF on Halloween. Micky Allison, now in her sixties, remembers that her mother, a teacher, would take those small empty cartons of milk.

MICKY ALLISON: When the kids finished with them at school, she would bring them home and we would wash them, in soapy water, and we put an orange arm band around it and then it progressed into the orange boxes.

ADLER: The idea caught on after Reverend Clyde Allison published an article in a church newsletter. The Allison children went out every Halloween. Monroe Allison and his sister Mary Jean remember their father telling them that a penny represented so many glasses of milk, so many vaccines, so many mosquito nets. And as he went trick or treating, Monroe Allison would think...

MONROE ALLISON: That's the penny for the milk. Now I have to collect for the vaccination.

MARY JEAN ALLISON: We understood that a dime fed a lot of children.

ADLER: Trick or Treat for UNICEF has raised more than $160 million overall. It funds children's healthcare, nutrition, education in over 150 countries and territories. Over the years, it has been promoted by scores of celebrities and featured on television shows ranging from "Bewitched" to "Lassie."


UNICEF: Trick or treat, trick or treat for UNICEF.

ADLER: Kini Schoop is director of Public Relations for the U.S. fund for UNICEF.

KINI SCHOOP: There were some years where it was pretty stagnant. It's definitely picked up.

ADLER: Lucy Reuben has been organizing Trick or Treat for UNICEF for years at PS 3, a public school in Greenwich Village. The most important thing she says, is teaching kids about social responsibility.

LUCY REUBEN: And that we have to take care of each other. That's why we're on the earth.

ADLER: Reuben would do things like take the kids to the stock exchange.

REUBEN: And they walked around to all the, like, brokers and everything. And they got really a lot of money, like $4,000 in an hour.

ADLER: She was sitting around with fifth graders Zoe Teper, Lila Coley and Zeke Fine.

ALLISON: It's really amazing what you can do with, like, $4,000. You could save a lot of kids.

INSKEEP: Usually I go on the bus home, just by walking with my box, people - I don't even have to ask - they just put money in.

ADLER: Of course, most children who will take those orange boxes out this Sunday will simply go to their neighbors, as children have done for six decades.


UNICEF: Unidentified Group of Children: That's why we rang your bell...

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.


INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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