About 150 students spent Halloween evening collecting monetary donations rather than candy at Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.
Texas UNICEF is a non-profit student organization that promotes the goals of the United Nations Children’s Fund in the Austin community. Cindy Chen, Texas UNICEF president, said although participants request donations when they go door-to-door, the primary purpose of the event is to raise awareness for UNICEF’s cause.
“We ask for change and any cash donation that the person at the house wishes to give,” said Chen, an integrated MPA senior. “It can be any amount, and it can be no amount at all. What we really encourage is just getting the word out there.”
All funds collected during the fundraiser are donated directly to UNICEF, which allocates funds to projects at its own discretion. Texas UNICEF uses the cash donations to purchase UNICEF Inspired Gifts, which Chen said are packages containing lifesaving resources such as vaccines and water-purifying tablets that are shipped to children around the world.
Texas UNICEF recruits volunteers from various campus organizations such as spirit groups, non-profit groups, sororities and fraternities. This year, 30 teams of four to six volunteers each dressed in costumes and canvassed different Austin neighborhoods near campus to trick-or-treat for donations.
Brittnie Tran, biochemistry senior and co-vice president of Texas UNICEF, said the fundraising aspect of the event is helped by the generosity already displayed by people passing out candy for Halloween.
“Everyone’s in the holiday spirit, so donations are a lot easier to get on Halloween versus any other day,” Tran said.
Aparna Chandrashekar, Liberal Arts Council Campus and Community Focus co-chair, said 10 teams from LAC participated.
“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” said Chandrashekar, a civil engineering and Plan II junior. “You get to trick-or-treat, and some of the really cool neighborhoods give you king-sized Butterfingers, which is always a win.”
According to the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF website, a $5 donation can provide 13 doses of the measles vaccine, and a $15 donation can provide a child with safe drinking water for a year.
Last year, Texas UNICEF raised $1,800 at this event, and Chen said this year’s goal is $2,000.
“Such a small amount of money makes such a big change, so we want to raise our goal every single year to make as big of an impact as possible,” Chen said.