Families across the United States have Trick-or-Treated for UNICEF for 66 years, raising more than $175 million dollars for UNICEF and providing hope for millions more children around the world. This year, nearly 100 schools in the city of Chicago rallied students and communities to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, joining hundreds more in the Chicagoland area—some carrying on a Halloween tradition spanning nearly three decades.
Alexander Graham Bell Elementary in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood is one of these dedicated schools. For 23 years, students, teachers and parents at Bell School joined forces to support UNICEF’s lifesaving work, raising more than $8,000 since 2010 alone. While the total funds raised are impressive, the empathy of students and dedication of teachers sets Bell School apart. First grade teacher, Emilie Kaim, said the Bell School community “considers participation in service projects to be a vital part of a child's education.” Ms. Kaim brings this campaign to life each year by ordering boxes, sending letters home to parents and bringing together classrooms to count change. The excitement around Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF at Bell School is infectious and creates a space where children can not only learn about giving back, but empathize with children who may be just like them, only living in different circumstances.
During my visit to Bell School in October, the second grade students eagerly awaited our conversation, little orange boxes in hand. As I walked into the classroom, soft whispers and high-pitched squeals surfaced, “UNICEF is here!” While I was prepared to speak about each area of UNICEF’s work, we only made it through 1/3 of the information. The students flooded our conversation with questions about the places UNICEF works and the children we serve. They compared their lives to the lives of children around the world, having a hard time imaging a life without faucets and refrigerators with cold, clean water. They immediately began to question how they could help. “Can I give my allowance?” several students asked. “I put $5 dollars in my box this morning, do you think that is enough to help?” another shouted. The empathy, understanding and raw excitement was humbling.
The environment teachers, students and families built around Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF at Bell School is one that makes me proud of the children of our city and hopeful that we will one day see a world fit for children—with the Bell School community leading the way