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TALKING WITH ALYSSA MILANO

Alyssa Milano, who plays Phoebe on the show "Charmed," is also the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF spokesperson and celebrity ambassador. Kid Reporter Parijat Samant asked Milano about her recent trip to the African nation of Angola and her hopes for children all over the world.

TFK: How did you get involved with UNICEF?

MILANO: I wanted to make a difference in the lives of as many kids as I could. I like the fact that they work with all these different organizations worldwide. They work with lots of non-government organizations in order to help more people. When I was in Angola, (UNICEF) worked with different organizations to clear mine fields. I just felt like UNICEF was ... going to give me the strongest voice to reach out to as many people as possible.

TFK: Can you tell us what you did in Angola? Was there any one thing that left a really deep impression on you?

MILANO: We went to malnutrition centers, vaccinated kids at the health centers and we went to maternity hospitals and visited new mothers.

One of the things that really stood out to me was that no matter what the conditions are, politically or socially, the children have such an enormous amount of hope, and that is such a beautiful thing. Going to Angola was really amazing. These kids are so hopeful, no matter what their lives have been like up until this point, they can still hope for a better tomorrow!

TFK: So far, how much of a difference do you think you have made in the lives of children?

MILANO: Not a big enough difference! I hope that I have made some kind of change, but I want to do more.

TFK: How can children in America help in your efforts with UNICEF?

MILANO: Little things like the Trick-or-Treat campaign can make such a huge difference. Also, to just remember that we are so blessed in this country to live the lives that we do, because there are kids in other countries who aren't given that. We should always keep that in mind, and grow up wanting to help, because we can all make a difference.

TFK: You were very young when you started acting. Was it difficult spending your childhood acting on TV?

MILANO: I was 7 years old when I started acting in a theater in New York. When I was 10, I got a part on the TV show "Who's the Boss." I was really young, but I wouldn't say it was hard. It was different, but it was the only childhood that I knew.

TFK: Throughout your career you've played many characters. Which character did you enjoy playing the most and why?

MILANO: I think Phoebe, because we get to do so many fun things. We get to dress up and play mermaids and genies, and we are always transforming into something. When I was a little girl, I loved to play dress-up, and now I get paid to do that!

TFK: What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?

MILANO: I was Tinkerbell a lot. But I was also Princess Leia, and I really liked her because she was the first woman in a movie who was strong and not the damsel in distress.

TFK: Is there any message you'd like to send out to all those kids who will be Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF this Halloween?

MILANO: I want all the kids to know not only how grateful I am that they are participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, but also how grateful the world's children are. The most important thing to realize is that when we are young, sometimes we feel like we don't have a voice loud enough to make a difference, but if we can unite ourselves, we have a chance of achieving things like peace.

TRICK OR TREAT FOR A CAUSE

* If you'd like to collect money for UNICEF, pick up an orange collection box at any Pier 1 Imports store or at IKEA. One dollar will immunize a child against polio for life. Twenty dollars will buy purification tablets to clean more than 100 gallons of water.

* Or, you can give the gift of sight. Collect old eyeglasses to be distributed to needy people in two dozen countries, including the United States, Laos, Albania and the Philippines. Go to www.sightnight.org to learn about the program, organized by LensCrafters and Lions Clubs International, and to download door hangers, brochures and stickers.

-- Knight Ridder Newspapers

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