As of late Tuesday, the Good Holiday Spirit campaign had received donations totaling 1,405,026 euros. The funds will be used to provide 18,000 vouchers to needy families selected with the help of local social welfare, health and church workers.
Seija Salminen, social services planner for the Finnish Red Cross, told Yle that the increased number of requests for help from families reflects the growing financial difficulties many people are facing. Single parents and families with large numbers of children are especially hard pressed.
"Even though families get various types of social benefits, they still can't get by. The level of benefits is so low that the money doesn't stretch to meet living expenses. For example, for many families housing costs use up most of their income," Salminen explains.
More large donations
At least 20,000 private individuals contributed to this year's campaign coffers. The number of corporate donors who pledged more than 1500 euros was at a record high.
This year's drive closes today, Christmas Eve. Last year by this time, the campaign had collected around 1.2 million euros.
This 18th annual "Good Holiday Spirit" campaign organized by the Finnish Red Cross and Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, was carried out in cooperation with Yle's TV1 morning show, Yle Radio Suomi and Yle Radio Vega.