Why I won’t buy UNICEF holiday cards

The hypocrisy of UNICEF’s Christmas and holiday cards Photo: USPS

NEW YORK, December 5, 2011 — UNICEF holiday greeting cards have been an iconic symbol of the spirit of the holidays since 1949.  

Ubiquitous during the holiday season, you can buy them on UNICEF’s own website, or at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and many other major retailers. 

And who can resist images like cute multicultural cadre of kids, smiling and holding hands as they circle the globe? Who can’t get behind the idea of children from all nations coming together across borders, showing the one-ness of the human race? 

Well, actually UNICEF can’t.  It has declared national borders sacred; country of origin rigidly defining.  Sadly, all that’s left of UNICEF’s “we are one people, one world” message is what’s found in a twelve-buck box of paper cards.

To sell their charming assortment of holiday cards, UNICEF writes “When you send UNICEF Christmas greeting cards and holiday cards, you help bring hope, health and happiness to children around the world.” 

They should have disclaimer at the end, specifying “just not to orphans.”

UNICEF has been very successful in marketing its cards to unsuspecting Americans, who do not know about its stance against the world’s orphans finding permanent families in the U.S.  In fact, UNICEF rakes in about $16.8 million from sales of cards and related products, according to a United Nations report for 2010. 

In recent years, UNICEF has taken a radical position against orphans, insisting that life in the country of birth is always preferable than life with an adoptive family in another country even when that means children are condemned to orphanages.  So much for those handholding holiday cards.  Good-bye, one-ness.  Hello, border patrol.

Their tagline is “Shop for a cause and help children in need.”  While no one can argue with the fact that UNICEF does work to improve living conditions for some children in need, their assistance goes to those who already have families.  Those without, not so much.

Until UNICEF’s campaign against inter-country adoption is stopped, I won’t be buying their greeting cards, and I urge everyone who is concerned about the world’s orphans not to buy them either.  And, as delightful as the cards may look on my mantle, when I receive a UNICEF card I will not keep it in my house.  In fact, I’ll take it as an opportunity to educate the sender about how UNICEF has chosen to turn its back on parentless children again this holiday season.

This year, if the spirit moves you to send holiday cards that will make a difference, there are many other alternatives to supporting UNICEF, which has lost its moral compass and has turned orphans into collateral damage in service of a political agenda.

Instead, choose an organization that champions a cause you believe in, that has a positive impact on the world.  For one of the best places to find a huge selection of beautiful holiday cards that support worthy organizations, go to http://www.cardsthatgive.org.


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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

Andrea is also mother to Maxine, who was adopted from Vietnam in 2006, and is the inspiration for The Red Thread column on adoption at The Washington Times Communities.   Andrea is currently at work on a book on international adoption.

In addition to her work as mother, writer and traveler, she is the founder and president of Media Branding International, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations craft and promote their image in media outlets around the globe.

Find Andrea at andpoe@Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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