Hi parents who read The Huffington Post! I know you're busy -- Halloween is around the corner, and you've got costumes to make, treats to buy, and skeletons to hang in the front lawn. So I promise to make this quick (read fast).
Hi, I'm Laura Marano. I'm an actress. Your kids may know me from "Austin & Ally" on the Disney Channel. You potentially might know me, too. Hopefully our show gives you a chance to sit down with your kids for a bit, and spend some time together. If that's the case, "You're welcome. It really is my pleasure. Really, it's no problem." Oh, by the way, I need a favor...
Halloween is one day out of the year where every kid has the power to be a hero regardless of what costume they're wearing. They don't need a cape or shield -- they just need a tiny orange cardboard box. As the 2013 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Ambassador, it's my job to ask your kids to participate in this wonderful campaign to save and improve the lives of children around the world by providing them access to health care, nutrition, clean water and education. The message of this whole campaign is simple: kids helping kids.
Now, we all know how forgetful kids can be... especially when they get excited about something like Halloween. I mean, who can blame them? Halloween is something even adults get really wrapped up in because it takes them back to being a kid and having fun. But I really need to get their attention.
That's where you come in as parents. Inspire your children. I promise, your kids will think you're cool if you do this. They may not tell you that now, but they'll thank you later in life. Help your kids realize that they have the power to make a change. And if that doesn't work, tell them they are exempt from chores for a week -- that'll definitely motivate them.
Last March when I first met with UNICEF, I learned that many kids in other countries don't have birth certificates -- so that means that they virtually do not exist in that country. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF allows kids in America to give these kids in other countries a voice. (And trust me, as someone with a really loud voice, I am ALL ABOUT people raising voices). There are also millions of kids who don't have clean drinking water, who go to bed hungry at night and who don't have basic school supplies to learn. Just one dollar can give a child clean water for 40 days, one dollar can feed a malnourished child, and one dollar can provide two children with a pencil and notebook so they can be prepared for school. That's a lot of good we can do for just a dollar.
Sometimes we forget there is an entire population of children out there trying to survive -- and not in the sense of surviving algebra or that weird acne phase or long lines at the mall or no date for the prom (although that's rough), but actual survival. Eighteen thousand kids a day die because they don't have clean water, enough food, medicine or adequate sanitation. We have the power to change that number to zero. We can connect to these kids... and I'm not talking about connecting like on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Connect emotionally. Giving back is something my parents have instilled in me which is why I chose to participate in the 2013 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign, and I hope you and your family will too.
Together, moms and dads (and might I say, you look very young for your age), we can make an impact and help kids all over the world. We have that power. Every single person has the power to change the world and help people. (Isn't that what you taught us in kindergarten?) It starts with a little orange box. Please get one at your school or download a canister wrapper here.
This Halloween when your kids are trick-or-treating, remind them to ask your neighbors for a few bucks to put in your orange boxes. And if your neighbors don't give, you should. If you donate, I PROMISE your kids will learn values that will stay with them forever.
Laura Marano is a 2013 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Ambassador.