Lorin isn’t sure why Halloween used to scare her so much.
It was something about the masks.
By the time she was 27 months old, Lorin was in her fourth foster home. She was born toxic.
Those who know the confident, beautiful and accomplished 15-year-old Lafayette High sophomore struggle to believe the circumstances of her beginnings.
She is first chair clarinet in Lafayette High’s symphonic band. She’s a volleyball standout. She’s in all honors classes (except one) — but more than all of that, she is kind and gentle.
“My birth mom was on drugs through most of her pregnancy. It’s a wonder I’m alive, but then, to have been given talents like music and sports — it’s such a privilege,” she said. “I was adopted.”
And in that last sentence, Lorin believes her blessings began.
She doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her. She credits her parents, Katherine and Keith Prejean, with making the difference in her life. Both of her parents have built their careers on serving others. Katherine earned a Masters in psychology and works with the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health. Keith works with women and children with HIV AIDS at Acadiana Cares.
“My parents support me, sometimes even when they don’t agree with me,” Lorin said. “They help me — not just because of their jobs. Even outside of their work, they just help people. They care about people. They take care of people in general.
Being around them has shown me how to treat people and what I’m supposed to be as a person.”
Katherine says that when little Lorin came to live with them, she was traumatized for reasons they’ll never fully know or understand. Keith and Katherine fell in love with the little girl and began the process of adoption, which takes a while. When Lorin was 4 and a half, her adoption was final. The one thing she wanted to do to celebrate was go to Chuck E. Cheese. Once there, Lorin was terrified of Chuck E. Cheese.
“She was so afraid of the mouse in the mask,” Katherine said.
Masks in general scared her a lot, but it was Halloween that really got to Lorin most.
“She wanted to celebrate the fun of Halloween, but in the first five years she was with us, she only went trick or treating to two houses,” her mother said. “She wanted to imagine and pretend and be a part of it, but she just couldn’t.”
Years passed and the fun of Halloween eluded Lorin through her trick or treat years.
And then a young brother and sister came along. Lorin was 12, too old to trick or treat, but she was just getting comfortable with the whole scenario.
Her resourceful mom developed a plan. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF raises funds to help save children’s lives in more than 190 countries and territories by providing immunizations, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation.
After all trick or treat donations have been submitted, UNICEF identifies the countries where these needs are the greatest and reports on the specific programs to which the money has been allocated. All of UNICEF’s work “springs from the belief that we can reach a day when zero children die from preventable causes,” according to their website.
“When Lorin was ready, Trick or Treat for UNICEF was a perfect win-win-win situation for her,” Katherine said.
This Halloween will be her fourth effort to collect funds for UNICEF.
“My mom’s friend was thinking about Halloween ideas. She remembered the UNICEF box and said she would donate $100 if I did it again this year,” Lorin said.
Katherine said her daughter’s shy nature makes the whole experience slightly challenging, but Lorin couldn’t pass up $100 for kids in need.
“My needs are met. I even have extra stuff like volleyball and band. But other people don’t have their basic needs met,” Lorin said. “Collecting money and sending it to children who are struggling — like I could have struggled — makes me feel good. I look at my life and their lives. I know if I could do something to make their lives happier, then that’s what I need to do.”
Katherine said that in the week before Halloween she and Lorin pass out cards in their neighborhood that explain what UNICEF is and that Lorin will be collecting money for them — even pennies. Many of the people 35 and over remember the UNICEF Halloween boxes from their childhood, which also makes the experience easier and more fun.
If Lorin gets change, the family takes it to a CoinStar location. “Lorin puts in her account number and it goes straight to UNICEF. I don’t have to roll or count, and we don’t even have to send it in,” Katherine said.
All Trick or Treat for UNICEF money counted at CoinStar automatically goes to the charitable organization.
“I do this because people who aren’t as privileged as me need help,” Lorin said. “It’s for a good cause. It helps children — and nobody has to donate a lot. A single dollar will go far.”
And in the act of helping others, Halloween isn’t so scary for Lorin anymore.
For more information about Trick or Treat for UNICEF, go to trickortreatforunicef.org.