When I was a child, almost every young trick-or-treater wore an orange UNICEF box on a string around their neck. Beside every bowl of candy was a bowl of spare change, mostly pennies, nickles and dimes, and the sound of them hitting the bottom of the box was as satisfying as the candy that went in my bag – judging the weight of each one at the end of the night was equally satisfying.
I recall the pride I felt turning in the heaviest UNICEF box to my teacher the day after Halloween. I loved to help count, roll and tally all the coins. When the "loonie" was introduced, in 1987, it was my last year of going door to door, and I remember what a prize it was to discover one in my box – like finding Willie Wonka's golden ticket! 13 years ago, this program ended in Canada, presumably because it was too much work for administrators. I've always thought it such a shame, because my children were unable to experience the joy that came from giving to children in need at a time of year when it's far too easy to feel greed...
But this year, UNICEF is back, inviting kids to become "Halloween Heros". In keeping with the habits of today’s digitally connected youngsters, the platform encourages kids to set up online fundraising pages and get donors to sponsor their night of trick-or-treating.
In my pre-internet, pre-smartphone opinion, I'm not sure if this new program can replace the physical satisfaction of hearing coins drop and feeling that box around my neck, however, I'm very glad that Halloween can once again be about giving and not just looting.