AS the country’s malls, shops andcrafts markets bustle with shoppers seekingChristmas gifts for friends and families,charitable organizations are hopingtheir spirit of gift giving will also benefitsome of the thousands of people in needthis holiday season.Many organizations in Costa Ricawork year-round with at-risk children,AIDS patients and their families, and theelderly in homes. Some have planned specialholiday parties, meals, gift giving andother events for the people they serve.Though most groups are looking fordonations of gifts and money, donatingtime is also worthwhile.FOR example, volunteers entertainchildren in the nursery at the privatelyfunded free clinic in La Carpio, the shantytownon San José’s northwestern edge,which serves the largely impoverishedimmigrant population.Gail Nystrom, director of the CostaRican Humanitarian Foundation thatworks with the clinic, collaborates with 50people and institutions that work withthousands of Costa Ricans and immigrantsto improve the quality of their lives.She will help those who wish to makedonations or volunteer with the charity oftheir choice. Nystrom said she is always inneed of food donations, new and usedclothing, toiletries, money, apples andgrapes to give children for Christmas,women’s makeup – even if it’s slightlyused – to help women look their best whenthey apply for jobs.Those interested can call Nystrom at390-4192, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visitthe foundation’s Web site www.crhf.org.THE Salvation Army’s Angel Treecampaign collects Christmas gifts fordozens of children from poor families. TheTico Times, one of the program’s sponsors,lists the names of the children still in needof a sponsor (see page 12).During the past 12 years of the program,the Salvation Army has brightenedthe holidays of thousands of children, withapproximately 90,000 gifts distributed. Toparticipate, call the Salvation Army byDec. 18 at 223-4864, or 221-8266.THE Fundación Vida is planning aparty for 250 children who either haveHIV/AIDS or are affected by it – eitherorphaned by the deaths of their mothers toAIDS, or who live with a family memberwho has the disease.The foundation is seeking sponsors todonate gifts of new clothes and toys forchildren, by its Dec. 18 deadline. Thoseinterested can call 221-5819 or 258-3882to obtain the name and the clothing size ofa child to sponsor.Monetary donations to the foundationcan be deposited in the foundation’s BancoNacional account, #177910-7.THE San Pedro Parish in San Pedro,east of San José, will host a Christmasparty for impoverished children in thecommunity. Organizers will be looking fordonations until Dec. 20. To help, call 283-0068.The León XIII Parish in La Uruca, thenorthwestern district of San José, will hosta party for 150 children from low-incomefamilies and is seeking sponsors to donategifts.Volunteers for the parish provide lunchfor the children, ages 1-12, every weekdaywith food donated by the community.Those interested in donating holiday giftsor food for the lunches can call the parishat 233-0926 or 222-0544.THE National Children’s Hospital inSan José is collecting toys, which organizersspecify must be nonviolent in character,and fruits and candies to distribute to thechildren who are bedridden over the holidays.The volunteer schedule is full, butthose interested can sign up for next year.To donate money, the Foundation for theDevelopment of the National Children’sHospital has an account at Banco de CostaRica, 119497-6. For information call 222-0122.The Fitness Party Group, ordinarilyseen roping in customers for communityaerobics exercise events, is collecting toysfor children from low-income families livingin the Central Valley. CoordinatorVictor Sequeira said the goal is to collectand distribute 600 toys, of which they had150 by press time. For information callSequeira at 307-3216The non-profit Fundación CaritasFelices is holding a Christmas party Dec.19 for the children it works with; 114babies and children 12 and under who areHIV-positive or who live in a family with amember who has AIDS. The foundation islooking for donations of toys and money tocontinue its projects next year. It has anaccount at Banco de Costa Rica, 228990-3.For information call 234-0504.FAR from the Central Valley, theFundación Tiskita in Punta Banco,Pavones, in the southern Pacific zone nearthe border with Panama, is planning aChristmas party Dec. 20 for children in theremote Conte-Guaymí Indian Reservation.Maryanne Aspinall, who represents thenon-profit environmental and communityimprovement foundation, calls the reservation“an area forgotten by our governmentand where aid of any sort, public or private,seldom reaches.” Those interested inhelping the foundation with its holidayefforts or year-round work to protect seaturtles, reforest land and improve schools,among other projects, can donate moneythrough its two accounts with BancoNacional, in U.S. dollars: 200-02-087-000281-0, or colones: 0000146241-5. Forinformation, call the Tiskita JungleLodge’s San José office at 296-8125.