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What Happened to the UNICEF Hallowe’en Coin Boxes?

This is the box from 1980. I was 7 - the same age as my daughter is now.

This is the Unicef Hallowe’en box from 1980. I was 7 – the same age as my daughter is now.

Along with thousands of other Canadian school children, I collected coins as well as candy at Hallowe’en when I was young. Those UNICEF boxes were such a marvel to fold; we got to choose our very own colour of yarn to tie around our neck; and our teachers made us feel like we really were saving the children of the world with our 2lbs of pennies and nickels. Oh, the pride of plunking that little box at the front of my desk on November 1st – I can almost smell the copper and cardboard laced with the aroma of Chicklets and molasses. (Evidently, those little 2 packs of Chicklets were my favourite. Hallowe’en kisses were not!)

I likely didn’t appreciate the value of those UNICEF Hallowe’en coin boxes as a youngster, but I suspect that the seeds for my Save-at-Home-Mom mantra “it all adds up” were, in part, planted in my mind thanks to the various charity projects that my parents pushed my brothers and I to participate in. That sense of belonging to something “bigger” when my classmates plunked down their boxes, too, burns bright in my heart and I was really looking forward to sending my own children out there with their own UNICEF Hallowe’en coin boxes when they reached school-age. Sadly, the boxes are no longer.

What happened to the Hallowe’en coin boxes, I asked UNICEF

When I sat down with Unicef Canada at the recent Blissdom Canada conference to learn more about their new Survival Gifts program (more on that in a minute!), one of the first questions I asked was “What happened to the Hallowe’en coin boxes?”. I fully expected to hear a response like:

“schools weren’t able to distribute the boxes”, or

“people just weren’t giving coins anymore”.

On the contrary! Even in recent years with coins being less common in our households, teachers and volunteers spent hours of their time rolling the thousands of dollars in coins that were collected. One UNICEF rep shared the scoop that the heavy coins actually broke some of the transport trucks enlisted by UNICEF to collect the rolled coins. Can you imagine?!

Of course it makes sense that a program which became expensive to maintain would have to evolve with the times. I was pleased to learn that UNICEF has taken their October campaign up a notch in terms of the educational experience for children. “Instead of fundraising with the box one night of the year, students and schools are now learning more about what we do and how they can help all through the month of October,” says UNICEF Canada’s Andrea Ramhit. For those of us outside of the classroom, UNICEF has made gift giving easy and cyber slick with their online Survival Gifts. And of course, they have their own Hallowe’en hashtag! #UNICEFDAY

I am writing this blog post, somewhat “outside the box” of my usual budget hacks and savings tips, to challenge you to buy one of the Survival Gifts with your friends, family or colleagues this month to capitalize on the nostalgia of the UNICEF Hallowe’en coin boxes.

Consider collecting coins at your Hallowe’en party this weekend!

Are you going to a Hallowe’en party this weekend? Consider collecting coins (especially the ones with ducks and polar bears!) and ordering something from the Survival Gifts catalogue in honour of your fellow guests!

Christa Clips favourite UNICEF Survival Gifts

Collect coins from your party guests and buy your meaningful gift on-line right then and there! Or look through the catalogue ahead of time and purchase a Survival Gift in lieu of a hostess gift! What a great way to keep the spirit of the coin box alive, and to pass on the sense of being part of something “bigger” to our children.

Join me in keeping the tradition of giving to UNICEF at Hallowe’en alive and strong.

Aside: my friend Julie was likely expecting one of my Grocery Store Gifts from my recent Budget Hack blog post. Instead, I’ve counted out 10 loonies with my kids and she’s getting 22 packets of those Plumpy’Nut packets donated in her name. Thanks in advance for being your characteristic “hostess with the mostest!”

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Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed or commissioned by UNICEF to write this blog post. They have, however donated 1 tetanus vaccine in my honour in exchange for my e-mail address and phone number. If you would like to have a vaccine donated by one of the UNICEF partners in your name, visit unicef.ca by October 31st. Afterall, it’s #UNICEFDAY !