One of my favorite days of the year is coming up this Friday when UNICEF USA hosts the UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon. It’s a time when we honor extraordinary fellow Chicagoans who are leaders in improving children’s lives here in Chicago and around the world. This year, we will be honoring Maria Woltjen, Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, Zaher Sahloul and Steve Lehmann. Their work inspires us all to reflect on the big and little ways we can bring about brighter, healthier and more peaceful futures for children. We will also hear from our UNICEF Mexico Representative Christian Skoog who will speak about the migrant and refugee crisis and the vulnerability of children with no permanent home and share personally what’s he’s seen in Mexico. With more than 50 million children on the run, who are fleeing war, violence, and extreme poverty, we remember that beyond being migrants and refugees, they are all #ChildrenFirst.
We’d love for you to join us. Or, if you’d like to get involved with supporting UNICEF as a family, the timing is perfect for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. My kids get excited to engage in a generations-long tradition that has raised more than $175 million for kids around the world. It’s an opportunity to teach our kids that small change adds up to big change for kids. Every year, we dress up in our Halloween costumes and set up a Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF crowdrise page for friends and family to chip in for the cause. Then we go door-to-door in our neighborhood on Halloween night with our little orange box. By collecting small change as they Trick-or-Treat, kids can give the gift of clean water and nutrition to children around the world. Since 1990, the number of children dying every day from things like cholera and malnutrition has been cut in half. We have a long way to go, but there is real progress being made and so many bright futures ahead for the world’s children. You can visit trickortreatforunicef.org and print a label to make your own boxes at home.
The money raised through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will go to helping children affected by the recent hurricanes and earthquakes. Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, UNICEF provides lifesaving emergency support including safe water, hygiene supplies, blankets, protection, shelter and health care, while at the same time working with governments, partners and families to build long-term solutions. In 2016 alone, UNICEF responded to 344 humanitarian emergencies — from conflicts to natural disasters — across 108 countries.
With so much going on in the world, it is hard to know how to help, and how to get your families involved. As a mom, and the UNICEF USA Midwest Office Regional Managing Director, I’ve found that it helps to show my son and daughter that there are kids like them in all of the corners of the world who love to go to school, play with their friends, and dance! While schools and friends might look or sound different than our community here in Evanston, learning and friendships are things that unite kids like them all over the world.
Join me and my family, and this Halloween, let’s #BeScaryGood.
To learn more about getting involved with UNICEF in the Midwest region, visit unicefusa.org/supporters/regional/chicago.