"Likes" don't save lives: #UNICEFDay 2013

Halloween is upon us and when it comes to this childhood tradition, like many things in my life, I am a purist. I like to encourage my kids to think outside the box (or racks) of traditional gender-biased costumes, I like to decorate our front porch with that crazy spider web stuff and DANGER tape everywhere and like the good hardy Canadian kids that they are, my children don their snow pants, squeeze their costumes on over top and go door to door in our neighbourhood screaming "TRICK OR TREAT" at the top of their little lungs. It's how I did it as a kid and I feel it is important to maintain these traditions for my kids. One of the things that I do miss from my childhood and that was always part of Halloween growing up were the little orange UNICEF boxes that everyone had as the ultimate accessory to their costume. My brothers and I used to have a little bit of a competition every year to see who could collect the most pennies and whoever had the heaviest box at the end of the night would get to pick something from the others candy haul. Those were some good {cavity-inducing) times.

And while the orange boxes may not be around anymore (UNICEF Canada cancelled the program in 2006), UNICEF continues to do amazing things for children all over the world. I had a chance to talk to some wonderful UNICEF representatives while I was at Blissdom Canada a few weeks ago and got a mini tour of UNICEF's main programs and humanitarian efforts that directly affect children around the world.  It was an eye-opening, tear-inducing, heart-breaking and hope-creating experience for me.

From tasting the Plumpy Nut high protein therapeutic food that they provide for malnourished children, to following the trajectory of a vaccine from manufacturing to a child in a tiny village in a remote area of Mongolia, to picking up the VERY HEAVY  jugs that children have to haul miles every day just to have safe drinking water for their families, it was humbling and inspiring to see what all those pennies we used to collect have done and what donations to UNICEF continue to do today for children the world over.

The one program that touched me the most was UNICEFs work with children in refugee camps. In the UNICEF room at Blissdom, hanging on the walls were pictures that were drawn by Syrian children from refugee camps and I am still haunted by their artwork. I have two children who love to express themselves through art. My 7 year old loves to draw pictures of dinosaurs and his latest Hero Factory toy and my daughter draws pictures of animals and her family daily. This is what Syrian kids are drawing...

UNICEF drawing



And not because they saw these images on some superhero-to-the-rescue cartoon show, this is their REAL LIFE. We hear about Syria every other day in the news and the focus is always on drone warfare and chemical weapons and trying to figure out who is the bad guy in this particular war and what, if anything, we are to do about it. What we don't hear about are the over 3 million children IN Syria living in dire situations and caught in the lines of fire or about the over 1 MILLION children that have been displaced from their homes and are now living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and other regions of North Africa.

UNICEF has multiple ways that they help in these situations and one of them is through their Survival Gifts donation program. For just over $200 dollars you can send a whole school in a box to a refugee camp. Or an early childhood development box. These are literally big steel boxes with enough supplies for up to 50 kids that get shipped to the areas that need them. A tent can be turned into a school. The shade of a big tree can become a play area for toddlers. In the grand scheme of things this 'gifts' may not seem like much, but for a child who has lost everything and who is in a strange place and has a terribly uncertain future, a slice of normalcy-reading a book, learning his or her letters and numbers or stacking some blocks-can be just what is needed so that all hope is not lost and so that they don't forget what it means to just be a kid. There are many other much needed survival gifts that can be purchased and some for as little as $10.00. It really doesn't take much to help save a life.

Thursday, October 31st, 2013 is national #UNICEFDay. Won't you please join me and support UNICEF's work and NOT "LIKE" THIS POST at all! Instead, please visit Unicef.ca and purchase a life-saving survival gift. Think of it as a your little orange box and fill that sucker up with as much as you can. Somewhere in the world there is no Halloween, no trick-or-treating and no dress-up school parties to attend today. There is only fear, and hunger, and sickness, and despair, and no amount of "likes" is going to change that.

UNICEF FB_Like - Educate


A gift of medicines, of tools for education, of blankets and nutritional supplements, these are the things that offer hope and comfort to these kids. So please, Tweet about #UNICEFDAY all day long, post it all over your Facebook page, and then walk the walk and let everyone know that your support goes further than just sharing something on your timeline.

I just bought a School-in-a-Box.

In my mind, it is one ginormous orange UNICEF box and someone now owes me some of their candy!

Happy #UNICEFDay Everyone!


P.S. Disclosure - I was not compensated in any way for this post, but thanks to the generosity of Hallmark, because of this post, 10 children will be getting a live-saving vaccination.

P.P.S. Want to get in on that action? Head on over and give UNICEF your email address and you too can help a child get vaccinated. One email address = one vaccine = one child's life.