Church will resume UNICEF campaign

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

First United Methodist Church in Portales will resume a youth fundraising program for UNICEF after meeting with police Friday.

“We got it all straightened out,” said Toni Kiernan, the church’s coordinator for the United Nations Children’s Fund program.

Kiernan said she and her two sons were followed home by police officers Tuesday night after a resident complained about them knocking on doors seeking money for UNICEF.

Kiernan said the officers told her and her boys they would be arrested if they continued going door-to-door asking for money without a permit.

The church suspended the program after the incident.

Portales police Capt. Lonnie Berry said Friday officers in the department were made aware that the church group was conducting a legitimate fundraiser and not in violation of any laws.

He said any issues or misunderstandings had “been corrected.”

“We definitely want them to be able to do their fundraising,” he said.

“We just want to make sure our guys know that they’re out there doing it and they do now.”

Berry said it’s always a good idea for groups to let police know if they are conducting an organized fundraising campaign so there are no misunderstandings.

UNICEF’s Web site promotes a campaign called “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” encouraging youth to help children in other countries by going door-to-door and collecting money for donations to the organization.

Church pastor Jeff Symonds said Thursday his congregation has participated in the UNICEF campaign for at least the last three years without issue.

Last year, it raised $800 and set a goal of $900 for this year, he said.

About 30 members of the church’s youth group plan to go out this coming week to raise money for the campaign, he said.