Eating candy for a good cause: Prague's charity trick-or-treat tradition returns

Now in its fifth year the event raised a record amount for Czech children in foster homes last year. Here's how to participate.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 27.10.2021 10:23:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

A recent study revealed some uplifting data: more than half of children in the Czech Republic feel happy. The study, however, points to one rather sad inequity: children from rich families are happier. The Young Voices 2021 study, conducted annually by UNICEF also found that children perceive social differences more significantly and that those from poorer households are less happy.

It's not that much of a jump to connect a child's sense of happiness with a stable family life or opportunities to participate in important childhood traditions like going to camp. It's also clear that children from troubled homes often don't enjoy the same access to these experiences as their wealthier peers.

An annual charity event in Prague's Vinohrady neighborhood combines a beloved Halloween pastime with raising funds for disadvantaged kids – funds that create opportunities for doing things that bring joy: visiting museums and waterparks, attending camps.

Prague Halloween Trick-or-Treat for charity is returning this year (after last year's lockdown saw the event go online). Organized by long-time Vinohrady resident Dinah Richter Spritzer, a journalist, diversity trainer, and mother of young twins, this year's event aims to top 2020's record haul.

"This year will be huge because last year we couldn't have it. So there is pent-up demand! People can also donate online again this year. Last year we set a record of nearly CZK 200,000 raised. I hope we can come close to that," said Richter Spritzer.

Photo Maria Praha.
Photo Maria Praha.

Funds raised go to foster children's charity, SOS Children's Villages. "Last year the money we raised sent kids to summer camps. These kids also got to visit the zoo and a museum for the first time in their lives. The funds also provided therapy for children who had experienced severe traumas."

While money is collected in person from children at each trick-or-treat stop, SOS has also set up a Halloween page that accepts online donations.

"To give an idea of where the money goes, CZK 350 provides a much needed social services visit to a family in crisis, CZK 600 covers vitamins for a child in desperate need due to abuse or homelessness, CZK 101,000 can pay for physical and mental therapies for children whose lives have been negatively affected by the pandemic, poverty, domestic violence, and educational challenges," said Richter Spritzer.

Photo Maria Praha
Photo Maria Praha.

Richter Spritzer predicts high participation this year with 230 families registered so far.

"That's certainly the most who have ever participated, and we have about 30 trick-or-treat stops, including people stationed at Jiřího z Poděbrad square and another area park to collect charity and hand out candy."

In a country where fostering isn't so common, SOS Children's Villages help at-risk families stay together. They also operate foster centers that take in children whose parents cannot care for them temporarily.

Richter Spritzer believes that giving is now more important than ever: "I worry with the incredible rise in prices of basic goods right now, it will be even harder for many families."

Photo Maria Praha
Dinah Richter Spritzer handing out candy (photo Maria Praha).

As an added benefit she points out the incredible sense of community developed throughout the years of organizing the event. The Halloween festivities also give expat kids from mixed culture families the opportunity to experience a tradition that's just now gaining popularity in the Czech Republic.

"A lot of people think an events agency is behind this but it's just me and a few people behind the scenes who I would like to thank for saving Halloween this year: Emily Thompson and her husband Fred Hartman make the map, and Clayton Weeks makes the beautiful bilingual form," said Richter Spritzer.

To trick-or-treat or hand out candy for a good cause on Oct. 31, you can register to receive a map (and read important safety protocols for the event) here. Find more details on the Facebook page for the event. Donate directly to SOS Children's Villages via this dedicated Halloween form.

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