Saturday, October 18, 2008

PSA: Trick or Treat For Unicef and Other Ways to Care on Halloween

My favorite twin boys in the whole wide world, Ben and Alex, will be Trick-or-Treating for Unicef this Halloween.

Since none of you are in the Babylon area (probably) and they cannot come Trick-or-Treat at your door, go here to donate to Unicef. (How can you not? Look at those faces!) This is really a situation in which every penny counts. Here are some figures:

6¢ provides water for 1 thirsty kid
$2 provides nutrition for 1 hungry kid
$5 can provide a box of 100 disposable syringes for use during immunization campaigns.
$15 can buy one carton of high energy protein biscuits to support and rehabilitate three severely malnourished children for one month.
$44 provides school supplies to 20 kids
$100 can vaccinate 215 children against polio.
$112 provides emergency blankets to 37 kids
$200 immunizes 550 kids against measles

Ben and Alex, as well as their parents Coal and Cesar, are trying to raise $200. It doesn't sound like much, but it can go a long way through Unicef. To learn more about Trick-or-Treating for Unicef, go to the website.

This brings me to today's blog post, which has absolutely nothing to do with teaching English in Korea, but it happens. I have been searching the internet for ways to save the world on Halloween, which isn't usually thought of as a caring holiday. After much research and help from friends, I have created this list of how to help. I've included my opinions about the relative cost and social responsibility of each option. I hope everyone reading this chooses one or a few that best fit their budgets and lifestyles! This is by no means a comprehensive list and if you happen to know more, comment and let me know!

Before Halloween:

Purchase your Halloween costumes, decorations, and goodies from a charity site
Cost: Medium, Social Responsibility: Hard to say
One site I found, The Hunger Site, says that each purchase benefits charity but it is difficult to tell how much really goes to what charities. This is their Halloween goods store.

Prepare to Trick-or-Treat for Unicef
Cost: FREE, Social Responsibility: High
As stated above, donating any amount to Unicef does a lot of good for children around the world. However, if you take your own kids Trick-or-Treating for Unicef, you can go even further by collecting from people who may not otherwise be donating to Unicef. Additionally, you are teaching your children about the importance of giving and offering them an opportunity to help save children. It's a good chance to teach them about hunger, disease, and poverty as well as appreciating what we have. And best of all, it's really easy to do. Go to the Trick-or-Treat for Unicef website to get more information. All you need to do is print out a canister cover or order boxes, trick-or-treat, and then send the money to Unicef. If you want to, you can also spread the news about Unicef and trick-or-treat on the internet.

Prepare to Participate in Sight Night
Cost: FREE, Social Responsibility: High
Another great way to use trick-or-treating as a giving opportunity is to participate in Sight Night. While trick-or-treating, children collect used prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, and non-prescription sunglasses to be sent around the world to people who could not otherwise afford vision correction. Similar to Trick-or-Treat for Unicef, it's relatively simple to get started. Get a group together (great opportunity for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or any other youth organization), get materials, spread the word, go trick-or-treating, and turn in the glasses. You can turn the glasses in at most major vision centers (Target, Sears, Lens Crafters, Pearle Vision).

Buying Candy or Snacks Which Donate to a Cause:

Buy the "pink" version of your regular Halloween candy
Cost: Low, Social Responsibility: Low
Now, I'm hesitant about putting this up here because there is a lot of debate about buying regular products that donate a portion of their proceeds to breast cancer research or another charity. Some people do not believe in buying these products because the company often makes much more money in sales than they donate so in essence it is a marketing technique. However, if you were going to buy a bag of Hershey's candy anyway, why not grab that one that donates to breast cancer research. Same goes for M&M's. Again, very little money will actually go to breast cancer research and they may have a cap on how much they donate, but if you want to, it's not a terrible way to donate. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, it should be easy to find lots of other pink candies.

Buy Newman's Own chocolate or snacks
Cost: Medium, Social Responsibility: High
As you probably know, Newman's Own donates all proceeds after taxes to charities. Purchasing chocolate or snacks to hand out to trick-or-treaters from Newman's Own is much more socially responsible than buying from Hershey's or M&M's which use donation as a marketing gimmick. I like this NY Times article from 1999 about Newman's Own brand. More information on the Newman's own at their website. And on this page you can learn more about their organic snacks. What would be more socially conscious than handing out organic cookies or peanut butter cups (still a treats but not full of processed ickiness) from which all of the profits go to charity? As well as giving yourself, you are spreading the word about Newman's Own and their yummy goodies.

Buy candy from another charity food organization
Cost: High, Social Responsibility: High
Another charity food company worthy buying from is Good Karmal. The candies are very expensive, but if you can afford it, it seems like another sweet idea. There are also those save-the-rainforest chocolate bars you see everywhere, which again are pretty expensive, but if you can, why not? Again, these candies also help you spread the word about donating.

On Halloween night:

Donate to Unicef
Cost:Low-High depending on you, Social Responsibility: High
You can donate on their website or to a Unicef trick-or-treater. Easy!

Donate to Sight Night
Cost: FREE, Social Responsibility: High
Get rid of those old glasses that have been sitting in your sock drawer since 1992. You will never wear them again. Your prescription has changed six times since then! Give 'em up!

Donate Your Left-Over Candy After Halloween (try to do it as soon after as possible!):

Donate Your Candy to Ronald McDonald House
Cost: FREE, Social Responsibility: Medium (debatable)
Ronald McDonald House Charities help children, especially those who are terminally ill. Generally, those children do not get a chance to go trick-or-treating. While giving kids candy isn't usually a great service, what harm will a box of dots do to a terminally ill child? As harsh as it sounds, he's going to die anyway, let him have some candy and enjoy Halloween like most kids do! More about RMHC at their website. While you're there, you can check out other ways to donate to RMHC year-round. They accept donations of soda tabs (the little thing that you use to open your soda can, which in the mid-nineties we all wore on chains as necklaces for some strange reason). The tabs earn money for RMHC through recycling programs; and don't worry, you can still recycle your cans without them!

Donate Your Candy to a Food Pantry
Cost: FREE, Social Responsibility: Low
Some food pantries are excited to give out candy as a nice surprise to go with their meals. Clearly, though, it would be better if they had more healthy food to give out. But, if you followed my idea to get Newman's Own organic snacks, I think I'll up your social responsibility points.

Send Your Candy to Troops Overseas
Cost: Low-Medium depending on shipping, Social Responsibility: Don't want to get into that argument
Believe me, when you are abroad, it's nice to get packages from home. There are a lot of organizations out there that will either take care packages and mail them for you, or give you the name of a soldier to send a package to. Send non-chocolate candy (especially if it's going to the Middle East) or use the candy as a starting point to create a care package. You can search the internet for an organization, check with your local Lions or Rotary Club, or ask friends and family if they know anyone overseas to send a care package to.
This does not mean I support the war, or any war for that matter. Our soldiers and military personel should not be blamed for our involvement in other countries. I believe in making their trips abroad as pleasant and short as possible.

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