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Trick or treating to help those in scary situations

By Karen Colbenson

kcolbenson@postbulletin.com

When your doorbell rings tonight, listen closely to how the ghost and goblins greet you.

If you hear the traditional "trick-or-treat," go ahead and toss those chocolate bars into their bags, but if you hear "trick-or-treat for UNICEF," it’s not candy they are after. They want your spare change.

In that case, underneath the masks and bed sheets, you’ll find members of the Austin High School Key Club on a mission to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

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Through the campaign, the student members are boosting support for the United Nation’s Child Fund (UNICEF) and showing that trick-or-treating is not just about candy.

As in the past, this group will be distinguishable from the candy-demanders because they will be carrying orange boxes with the UNICEF label.

During last year’s campaign, about $300 was raised.

Members of Key Club International have raised more than $1 million in support of HIV/AIDS programs in Kenya; they hope to exceed that amount this year.

Money raised this year will go to the Swazi Children Care Project, a program that trains community volunteers to provide health services, nutritious meals and care to the children of Swaziland. The funds will help provide basic equipment, hygiene, educational, recreational and emergency supplies; link orphans and vulnerable children to essential basic services; train volunteer caregivers; and improve the ability of local organizations to provide community-based services.

According to Key Club International, about 40 percent of the adult population of Swaziland is infected with HIV, making it the country most seriously affected by HIV/AIDS in the world.

Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS are especially vulnerable to poor health and nutrition, missed opportunities for education, and protection against abuse and exploitation. They are also at great risk of contracting HIV. In many cases, orphans are forced to leave school and end up on the street.

Key Club International is a service and leadership program for high school students.

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