October 29th, 2009
06:52 PM ET

How UNICEF became a Halloween treat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/US/10/31/halloween.offenders/art.halloween.kids.gi.jpg caption="Téa Leoni suggests that trick-or-treaters ask for UNICEF donations along with candy"]

Téa Leoni
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Téa Leoni is a U.S. Fund for UNICEF Ambassador. Her grandmother, Helenka Pantaleoni, founded the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Leoni was a member of the 2007 Blue Ribbon panel for CNN Heroes.

I grew up under the impression that I was the best trick-or-treater in the whole wide world, because my grandmother invented it!

The whole thing was her idea! My grandmother and her friend UNICEF started it way back when she was born in the early 1500s. I thought UNICEF must be a pretty cool lady if she was hanging out with my grandmother.

Occasionally I'll ask people if they know about UNICEF, and sometimes they don't. But if I then mention the little orange Trick-or-Treat boxes on Halloween, suddenly everyone knows UNICEF.

We grew up carrying those Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes on Halloween night, and now our kids do. These days, the candy bags may be fancier than pillowcases, and the costumes may come from the store, but the orange boxes remain the same.

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Filed under: CNN Heroes • Halloween
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