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Better a late Christmas than none at all

The Swiss Red Cross has plans for unwanted presents


Needy children and pensioners in Switzerland and parts of the former Soviet Union will be receiving their Christmas presents a little late this year, but the quality of the gifts should make up for the wait.

This year, Swiss shoppers spent an estimated SFr 2.5 billion ($1.5 billion) on Christmas gifts. That works out at roughly SFr420 ($253) per person - the most generous splurge in a decade.

While most of those presents probably made their recipients very happy, it is almost certain that thousands more will wind up in the bottom of cupboards or, worse still, be thrown away.

But there is an alternative. For the previous three years, Swiss people have been able to hand over their unwanted gifts to the Swiss Red Cross for re-distribution to needy people.

The "Twice Christmas" campaign is being run again this year, in conjunction with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and the Red Cross.

So far about 5,000 parcels have been received at the Red Cross's collection depot near Bern. Most contained non-perishable foodstuffs and toys. Some have already been handed over to the Salvation Army.

Swiss residents have until January 6 to hand in any unwanted gifts at post offices across the country.

All parcels will be forwarded to the Red Cross for distribution among needy individuals in Switzerland. Old people and large families in Belarus and Ukraine are also set to benefit.

The campaign organisers are asking in particular for non-perishable foodstuffs, toiletries, toys and new children's clothes and shoes.

The Red Cross is hoping for a bumper Christmas. Last year over 40,000 parcels were handed over.

swissinfo with agencies


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