Christmas charity drive attracts record donations, provides meal cards for 22,000 families

This year’s annual Christmas charity drive brought in record donations totaling 1.7 million euros. The contributions helped fund Christmas meal gift cards for low-income households and other families experiencing tough financial times.

Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

This year’s joint annual Christmas fundraising drive by the Finnish Red Cross SPR and the Mannerheim Child Welfare League successfully brought in more donations than ever before – 1,705,348 euros.

The sum was enough to pay for 4,000 more meal cards than last year, bringing the total of 70-euro gift cards purchased this year to 22,000.

"This fundraiser was necessary, we also got that feedback from the families who’ve received gift cards," SPR fundraising coordinator Regina Laurén said in a statement.

The charity drive aimed to raise a total of 1.5 million euros. The additional money received this year will go towards next year’s fundraiser.

Economic decline increasing financial pinch for families

The food gift cards have been distributed to low income families and households that have otherwise been experiencing financial distress.

According to the SPR an estimated 117,000 children or nearly 11 percent of children living in Finland are growing up in low income households. The country’s ongoing economic downturn is also putting additional financial pressure on families with children.

Varpu Salmenrinne, who coordinates the SPR’s companionship activities, said in the release that some parts of the country needed even more of the seasonal gift cards to share among families in need.

Families who received the meal cards can use them to purchase food at supermarkets owned by the Kesko Group (K-market chain), S-Group (S-market chain) and the Lidl grocery network.

This year's Christmas Cheer charity drive began on November 20 and was the 19th annual fundraiser. Yle’s Aamu-tv, Yle Radio Suomi and Yle Radio Vega also collaborated in the charitable programme.

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