unicef

Students in Solon High School’s UNICEF club Wendy Wu, 16, from left, and Lara Decastecker, 17, prepare stacks of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes to be sent to classrooms across the district. Now in its 69th year, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund is a way for students to help other children around the world.

When a miniature Captain Marvel or Queen Elsa show up at your door tonight chanting “trick or treat,” they may be holding a bright orange box.

In Solon, that is thanks to the Solon High School’s UNICEF club, whose members gathered on Oct. 23 to sort piles of collection boxes to be sent to elementary and middle schools in the district, taking time to support a worthy cause.

The boxes are part of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), an initiative that gathers donations for UNICEF on Halloween night. UNICEF club adviser Laura Fitch said that about 3,000 boxes were dispersed to pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade students at Orchard, Lewis, Parkside and Roxbury elementary and middle schools as well as Solon Preschool.

“Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is one of our biggest events of the whole year,” said Samantha Jennings, a junior and the club’s secretary. The Solon resident explained that club members concentrated on sorting the boxes into bunches of 30 for each classroom and the bundles were delivered to the schools last week.

The individual boxes were assembled before children took them along for trick-or-treat on Halloween night, asking for spare change. The donations will be returned to the club this coming Monday, and members will be responsible for counting the money and sending it to UNICEF.

UNICEF donations support emergency relief efforts for children living in war-torn areas or extreme poverty, as well as those facing the lack of safe drinking water, medical care, education and food.

The club not only supports children internationally, but gives Solon High School students the opportunity to learn more about organizing philanthropy projects. Samantha and Wenzhao Qiu of Glenwillow, a senior and the president of the club, both had a chance to attend the UNICEF Student Summit in Washington, D.C.

“That was a wonderful experience,” Samantha said. “It’s really changed my involvement in the club. I got a lot more into it.”

“On the last day of the summit, we were able to go to the congressional offices to advocate for UNICEF, and I thought that was really cool,” Wenzhao added. “Just seeing UNICEF’s impact firsthand and seeing the hard work that you have to put in to help children across the world, I decided that this is something that I want to dedicate maybe the rest of my life to.”

Samantha said that she initially got involved in the club after the former club president, who recently graduated, persuaded her to check it out. As secretary, she takes part in keeping the philanthropic club organized. As president, Wenzhao said that she plans events and coordinates communication between the club members and their advisor on decisions the club makes.

Wenzhao said the aspect of UNICEF that makes her most excited is seeing other students get involved and interested in helping the cause.

“Usually, when people start as freshmen, they have no idea what UNICEF is,” she said. “But as they slowly learn what the purpose of UNICEF is, and they slowly realize how even their small contribution can have a huge impact in the world, seeing them feel the same way I did as I started my journey of this club is just amazing.”

The club plans to sell candy grams for the upcoming holiday season to continue raising funds.

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