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Trick or Treat for UNICEF

Allison family began the Halloween charity drive 60 years ago

These days, the program has become a thoroughly modern effort, with its own celebrity spokeswoman, teen actress and singer Selena Gomez, a Facebook presence, donations by mobile text and a new iPhone app. Last Halloween, $4.4 million was raised to help vulnerable children. Since it began the program has raised nearly $160 million.

Among the Allison family members, Thomson, 65, became a mother of two and an artist. She has two grandsons and lives near Chicago. Mickey Allison, 64, ran an art gallery in Minneapolis before moving in with her parents 10 years ago. She has no children. Monroe Allison, 62, is a salesman living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has two children and two grandchildren. Of course, all the Allison offspring have trick-or-treated for UNICEF.

Clyde Allison died last year. Mary Emma Allison died Wednesday at her home in Lowell, Ind., surrounded by her family. She was 93. 

Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, said Mary Emma Allison "leaves a legacy born of her kindness and her fundamental belief in the dignity and worth of all children. 

"What began as a simple wish to turn Halloween into something 'good' resulted in the nation's longest-running youth service program. Because of the Allisons, untold numbers of children's lives have been saved and improved over the last 60 years. And generations of American children have been inspired to follow their hearts and supplement their Halloween candy collection with something much more important," Stern said.

The family has established "The Mary Emma Allison Memorial Fund." Donations, payable to U.S. Fund for UNICEF, can be made online or by calling 1-866-237-2224 toll free.

Kitty Bennett is a news researcher and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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