October 29, 2010

Trick or Treat for UNICEF

Tonight’s NBC news noted it’s 60 years since the first time young children collected pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters for UNICEF.

“Do you remember that?” I asked my husband, who grew up in the Deep South bayous of Louisiana.

“No, that was thought part of the international conspiracy,” he said, grinning.

We are a bit too old to remember the first year UNICEF was part of Halloween, but as an elementary student growing up in South Orange, NJ, in the 50s, I regularly collected for UNICEF – always, I confess, in tandem with my own request for sweet offerings of a different nature.

By the time I had children of my own, however, our perception of UNICEF had changed.

By then, in the mid-70s, the Jewish community had decided UNICEF (in large part because of the policies of the UN) had a decidedly anti-Israel bias. And so I never encouraged my children to donate any pennies or nickels collected to the agency.

Now, as my older child approaches her 40th, I am rethinking the whole issue.

Children, all to often, are the uninvolved pawns in international political.

Children, be they Israeli or Palestinian, Sudanese or Ethiopian, are innocent. And our responsibility to look beyond the political borders is unequivocal.

How can we deny these children a future?

1 comment:

  1. Not a Halloween of my childhood went by that my sister and I didn't "Trick or treat for UNICEF," schlepping those orange cardboard boxes -- along with our plastic pumpkins -- around the neighborhood. As fast as the pumpkins filled with candy, so, too, did the boxes fill with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even an occasional dollar bill or two. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.