Jenna Bush Hager on Why She Loves Working with UNICEF & Halloween – Gotham Magazine

We chatted with philanthropist, mother, and TV show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager about her dedication to UNICEF, what she loves most about its Trick-or-Treat campaign, and why she’s looking forward to Halloween this year.

Jenna Bush Hager.
Jenna Bush Hager.

Today Show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager has been involved with UNICEF since she was a child. Now, as a mother to two girls, she continues to fully support the organization in any way she can. Here, we asked her to share what she loves about the organization’s Trick-or-Treat program, and why she can’t wait for Halloween to arrive.

Why is contributing to UNICEF important to you?
JENNA BUSH HAGER: As a mom, I know that all moms want the same thing for their children—they want them to grow up happy and healthy. UNICEF has been helping do just that by putting children first for almost 70 years. They are on the ground in 190 countries and territories, and have helped save more lives than any other humanitarian organization. I have seen UNICEF’s life-changing work firsthand. After I graduated college, I interned with the organization for 11 months in South America. I have met some of the children they have helped, and I know that what they’re doing works.

Tell me about the Halloween campaign.
JBH: In the U.S., I especially love the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign, since it shows kids that they can help save children’s lives by going door-to-door with an orange box in hand on Halloween. Turning a holiday that is fun and silly into something that really makes a difference for kids around the world feels great. This is the 65th anniversary of the campaign, and it’s incredible to know that generations of American kids have participated and raised more than $175 million dollars to provide children with medicine, clean water, nutrition, education, and emergency relief.

Is this something you have done since you were a little kid yourself?
JBH: Yes! I participated in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF when I was young, and it inspired my lifelong dedication to helping children around the world. I have loved sharing this iconic American tradition with Mila, and now can’t wait to share it with Poppy as she grows up, too. It’s a fun, easy way to empower children to help kids around the globe who need more than candy on Halloween. It shows kids that they can have an impact, no matter how much they raise. Just 50 cents can give a child a pencil and notebook for school, and $15 can provide an entire year’s worth of clean, safe water for a child.

How long have you been involved as an adult?
JBH: I’ve been so proud to support UNICEF as the Founding Chair of UNICEF Next Generation, a group of young leaders who dedicate their time, energy, and effort to supporting UNICEF’s work through education, advocating, and fundraising. In fact, we just hosted a Masquerade Ball in Chicago last weekend, and we’re hosting the third annual UNICEF Black & White Masquerade Ball in Los Angeles on October 30—all to support UNICEF’s inspiring work for children. After I wrote Ana’s Story, it was important for me to help create an outlet for my generation to get involved in UNICEF, because I knew so many of my friends and peers wanted to, they just didn’t know where to turn. Now, in its sixth year, I am so proud of all that we have accomplished—we have over 600 members nationwide, have completed over 11 projects globally, and raised over $5 million (and counting). Plus we have NextGen’s now in the UK and Vietnam with interest from other UNICEF country offices.

What do you love about Halloween?
JBH: I love Halloween because it means fall is officially here, and I love dressing up my daughters in fun, creative costumes. My husband and I have been planning their costumes for months! Mila has been negotiating with me—we differ in opinion as to what she should be. But I think we’ve finally figured out a good compromise.