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Connecticut Brothers Have a Trick for Their Treats

Wall Street Journal

1125 days ago   Article ID# 1283214
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United Nations Children's Fund

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (Wall Street Journal) - The children of Stamford, Conn., will be collecting more than just candy this Halloween thanks to the work of Daniel and Jonathan Berman.

In 2004, the Berman brothers began collecting change along with their candy to benefit UNICEF. Jon Berman, then in the fifth grade, recalled seeing an advertisement for the campaign on television and, with his older brother Daniel, he started fund-raising. They recruited other children from Roxbury Elementary and managed to collect $800 in coins.

The first year was such a success that the Berman brothers created a program, with how-to materials for teachers and principals, to encourage more children to participate. More than a dozen Stamford elementary schools and three local businesses now participate in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, the Berman house is filled with the tiny orange UNICEF coin boxes, sorted by school and classroom. After Halloween, the family returns to each school multiple times to pick up some 1,500 boxes. They sort the dollars from the coins over the dining room table and take the coins to a local bank to be counted by a machine. The Berman brothers say they've seen an occasional check or $20 bill in a box, but most of the money collected is pennies.

"The cars, when we drive them to the bank with, like, half of the coins totaled, you can actually feel a difference in the way the car drives because there's so much weight in the back," says Daniel Berman, 20 years old, a junior studying physics and psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The change collected by the children of Stamford has netted more than $60,000 for UNICEF, and the Bermans expect another $10,000 to come in this Halloween. For the past several years, the brothers have been among the top 10 fund-raisers nationally for the UNICEF campaign.

The Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign is in its 61st year and has raised more than $164 million. While it was conceived as a way to turn Halloween into a productive activity for children, Jon Berman sees it as a way to introduce small children to the idea of giving back.

"We could have stopped after one year…but one of the greatest parts about Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is that we get to get other kids involved in charity," says 17-year-old Jon, a senior at West Hill High School. "Getting involved in charity at a young age is so important in keeping it a habit throughout your life."

Often, trick-or-treaters will leave notes or a few pieces of candy in the Unicef boxes as a way to say thank you to the Bermans.

"We feel that a lot of kids get a positive feeling out of this," says Daniel Berman. "It's a really great thing to see."

Copyright 2014 Wall Street Journal   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1125 days ago   Article ID# 1283214

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