By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Reporter
Despite a few obstacles, a group of young local residents reached out to children around the world this winter by raising money from the community.
The youth at First United Methodist Church raised more than $1,000 for the United Nations Children’s Fund, said local Trick or Treat for UNICEF coordinator Toinette Kiernan. They went door-to-door to ask for donations from the beginning of October to the first week of November, and community members were still sending money in until shortly before Christmas.
“I’m very excited about it,” Kiernan said. “If it wasn’t for the community and the police department working with us, I don’t think we could have done this great.”
Near the beginning of the effort, Kiernan’s sons, 12-year-old Jonn Kiernan and 8-year-old Joseph Walrath, were told by police that since they didn’t have the proper permit, they had to stop going door-to-door or face arrest. A phone call from a church member to the police department helped straighten out the situation and get the boys rolling again.
“It turned out to be a misunderstanding,” Kiernan said. “The officer was new and didn’t know we do this every year.”
To avoid such issues next time, Kiernan plans to notify the police of the fundraiser in advance.
UNICEF helps children around the world receive food, clean water, shelter, and school and medical supplies. In Portales, the older children went door to door asking for donations, while small children collected coins.
Despite the bumps, Jonn and Joseph seemed pleased with the outcome of the fundraiser, their second effort with Trick or Treat for UNICEF.
Joseph said it was good, and Jonn called it “pretty cool.”
“I mean, we’re helping out other people and stuff,” he said.
At first, Jonn said, the door-to-door fundraising was somewhat difficult because he didn’t know what to say. However, he said the work was easy once he started.
Wyatt Legler, 15, also participated this year.
“I enjoyed helping others,” he said.
The hard part about Trick or Treat for UNICEF was people declining to donate, Legler said.
Legler’s mother, Gretchen, believes the youth themselves benefited from their efforts.
“They learned it’s sometimes very hard to reach out to people and it’s very rewarding when you do so,” she said.
Kiernan said the church youth are “all very caring and giving.”
“We had a lot of fun, and we hope next year we’ll have another great year,” she said.