Halloween: Giving beyond the candy

(Family Features) Kids and adults alike look forward to Halloween each year. From the costumes, to the sweet treats, there’s plenty to get excited about. But Halloween also provides the perfect opportunity for kids to get involved in the community as well. Use these tips to help your child think of the holiday as yet another way to spread a festive spirit, with less emphasis on candy, and more emphasis on giving back.

Collect donations for a cause. If your kids plan to trick-or-treat, talk to them about collecting coins for an organization that helps children in need throughout the world. For 62 years, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has encouraged kids to help raise funds for their peers in developing countries by going door-to-door on Halloween night or participating in other festive fundraising activities.

“Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a powerful way for parents to teach their children the value of helping others and for kids to learn about the world,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. For the first time, the traditional Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF box has been given a new look, with six spooky new character boxes – a monster, black cat, princess, pumpkin, vampire and a witch. Fundraising kits containing the character boxes may be ordered online with free shipping at www.trickortreatforunicef.org or by calling 1-800-FOR-KIDS while supplies last.

You can also donate food to the following local organizations:

Share some spooky treats. Most kids love to get involved in the kitchen – especially when sweet treats are involved. This year, whip up a batch of spooky treats together to share with neighbors, teachers, patients at the local hospital, and residents at your nearest retirement home.

Get crafty with the kids. Encourage your child to use their creative talents to help spread the Halloween spirit by designing their own Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF box. “This year, we want to tap into children’s imaginations by letting them bring their own creativity to the traditional Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes,” said Stern. The “Create-a-Character” contest allows kids to submit their Halloween character design for a chance to be selected for the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF 2013 limited edition collection.

Donate old costumes. Your kids grow quickly, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to wear the same Halloween costume two years in a row. Discuss with your child the needs of other children their age and give them the opportunity to donate their gently used Halloween costumes and clothing. Be sure to explain to your children how their costumes can help make another child’s Halloween extra special, and make sure they’re involved in the donation process.

Host a Halloween slumber party. Encourage your child to invite their closest friends for a night of spooktacular fun and treats. Ask each child to bring a canned good to the party to donate to your local food kitchen.

With a little planning and creativity, you can use the excitement of Halloween to encourage your child to give back to their community as well.

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