Halloween, like other children's holidays, is about "getting." Candy, mostly. But unlike many other holidays, there is no "giving" message typically associated with the occasion. Here's how you can make giving part of your Halloween fun.


Trick-or-treat for UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading children's organization. It provides children with lifesaving medicine, proper nutrition, clean water, education and emergency relief. By gathering change, in addition to or in place of Halloween candy, children can make a real impact in the lives of the disadvantaged. The process is simple:

1: Get or make an official UNICEF donation box. You can pre-order a box or make your own container by printing out the wrapper located on the UNICEF Web site. During October, collection boxes are available at several retail locations, including Pier 1 Imports and Hallmark Gold Crown stores.
2: Collect donations. "Trick-or-treat for UNICEF!" would be an appropriate thing to say when neighbors open the door. It is also a good idea to have the children thank everyone they ask, whether or not they donate.
3: Send in the money you raise. You can do this by check, money order, credit card or Coinstar machine. Checks should be made payable to U.S. Fund for UNICEF and sent to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038. Credit-card payments can be made at www.unicefusa.org/trickortreat or by calling 1-800-FOR-KIDS. To find the nearest Coinstar Center with a donation option, visit www.coinstar.com. You will need to enter code 5555 at the machine. Coinstar receipts should be sent to the address above.

The trick-or-treating for UNICEF on Halloween night slows down the candy-getting, as people answering their doors are prepared with Snickers and Hershey's Kisses but not with coins or cash. Costumed little ones have to wait at each house for people to grab their wallets, but they usually do like to put a few coins or a dollar or two in the box.

Trick-or-treating for UNICEF encourages and empowers children to help other children around the world. To find out more, visit www.unicefusa.org/trickortreat or call 1-800-FOR-KIDS.

Buy your Halloween products through Web sites that benefit others

One such site is www.therainforestsite.com, where every purchase "funds the protection of a vital habitat." Use the search feature and type "Halloween" to find Halloween products. While you are on the site, you and your children will have the opportunity (no purchase necessary) to help save vital habitats, sponsor mammograms, alleviate hunger, promote literacy and assist animal shelters, just by clicking a button. Donations are made possible through the site's ad sponsors.

Help a cat or bat

With bats and black cats serving as Halloween icons, it is the perfect time to bring their needs to your children's attention. Why not make or recycle your costumes this year? Or throw a Halloween bake sale? Your children can take the money they save or make and donate it to the Florida Humane Society. Visit www.floridahumanesociety.org for more information or call 954-570-9507. There is also a bat conservation organization that you can learn about at www.batconservation.org.

Attend a Halloween benefit

Check our event listings or scour the newspaper for Halloween events that benefit your community.

Throw your own charitable Halloween party

People don't think about donating to the poor during Halloween, so food banks tend to be relatively empty in October. Consider throwing a "Halloween Harvesting Party" and ask that your guests bring food to donate to your local food bank.

You might instead opt to "harvest" games, toys or clothes for needy children. Local child therapist Monica Schaly recommends Kids in Distress. "They collect new items, such as clothing, school supplies, toys, etc.," she said. "These items are really appreciated by the children in their shelters, group homes and foster homes."

Contact 954-390-7654 or 561-272-9619 or visit www.kidsindistress.org for a complete list of requested items, drop-off locations and further information.

Donate your extra candy