By Whitney “Airyn” Newton, Staff Writer

Grab your spooky mask. Put on your ghastly costume, and don’t forget to bring your goodie bag: it’s Trick-or-treat time!

According to the National Retail Federation, a total of almost 120 million kids, adults, and pets or about 40 percent of the American population will be dressing up for Halloween on Oct. 31. Young kids mostly between the ages of five to 13 years old will be partaking in the tradition of going door-to-door to collect treats.

A growing trend started by UNICEF, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries, is providing an opportunity for teenagers and adults to join the kids in Trick-or-treating.

On Halloween in 1950, school children in Philadelphia went door-to-door asking for donations instead of treats. They raised a total of $17, and they inadvertently kicked off the tradition of “Trick-or-Treat for Change.” Today, millions of individuals participate in Halloween-related fundraising campaigns worldwide. UNICEF reports that they have since collected nearly $160 million through this annual program.

Universities have since caught on, with many institutions offering students the chance to get dressed up to raise money for a cause. This year, Illinois State University along with nearby Illinois Wesleyan University will be hosting the 12th annual “Trick-or-Treat for Change” in the Bloomington-Normal area. The Leadership and Service department of ISU reported that by the 10th annual event, students had helped raise more than $60,000 through the program. All proceeds collected benefit the local Habitat for Humanity.

Students register as a group and are assigned neighborhoods to cover. The universities provide starter kits consisting of flashlights, reflective ribbons, and a map detailing the houses. Sisters of the Illinois State associate chapter have participated in “Trick-or-Treat for Change” almost every year since the program began.

Former president of the chapter, Heather Willmitch, said, “It’s a chance for us to give back to the community while taking part in the fun traditions of Halloween, such as dressing up.”

The community responds positively, donating anything from a few coins to large dollar amounts, with some teams bringing in a couple of hundreds of dollars. Often times, the residents will strike up conversations with the participants, which helps to create a relationship between the college and the community.

“Trick-or-Treat for Change” is a creatively fun way to raise awareness and support for non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and UNICEF. As it grows with popularity, more universities and colleges should expect similar programs to be put in place. As a wonderful volunteer opportunity, be on the lookout for Trick-or-treating for monetary donations in your community or be the one to start the conversation on the possibilities of getting one started.

“Trick-or-Treat for Change was a great program because I liked giving back to the community and knowing that it all goes towards building new houses for Habitat for Humanity,” Jemi “Phrysia” Puno, another Illinois State alumna, said. “It was also the first event I got to participate with the sisters before joining DPhiL. It was fun to have friendly competition with other student organizations too and seeing who can raise the most money at the end of the night.

“Finally, we’d also get candy from trick or treating,” she said. “And who doesn’t like free food? After Trick-or-Treat for Change, I’d always had a stash of emergency candy until the end of the semester.”


Featured Image: Special to The Jade Times