San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Christmas Cards Support Good Causes

It’s that time again – ladies’ groups are on the move, gathering troops to sell artifacts of a reportedly endangered action: the exchange of Christmas cards. “Every year people use cards less,” said Cristina Lara, whose Damas Voluntarias (Volunteer Women) committee hopes to sell 10,000 cards this season and donate the profits to children’s projects and a conservation group.

Part of a separate charitable project, Berenice Olórtegue blamed modern technology for diminishing Christmas card sales. However, her United Nations Ladies Association has a full catalogue of other merchandise, such as calendars, toys, umbrellas and soccer balls. The association, affiliated with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), hopes to bring in $20,000 this season, 15% of which will go to the association’s local children’s centers (the rest goes to other UNICEF projects throughout Latin America).

The 12-member Damas Voluntarias committee also has an ace in the hole – their 22nd annual “El Color de Costa Rica” calendar, full of paintings donated by artists of Costa Rican residence, as are their 18 designs of cards. The Damas are part of the 43-year old Social Welfare Association of the City of Escazú. The cards and calendars support a children’s library and tutoring center, a Public Health Ministry nutrition center and 40 uniform-and-school-materials scholarships in the western San José suburb.

The Yiski Conservationist Association also sells Damas Voluntarias’ cards, using the proceeds for its operating costs. Yiski is a 16-year-old organization dedicated to environmental education, protection of natural resources and reporting of environmental abuse.

Damas Voluntarias sells 18 designs of cards for ¢4,200 a dozen (about $8) and calendars for ¢4,600 (about $9) and ¢2,500 (about $5) at their office in Escazú (228-0279), through the Yiski Conservationist Association (297-0970), at Jiménez & Tanzi stores, at Librería Italiana and at other stores throughout the country.

The United Nations Ladies Association, founded 33 years ago by wives of U.N. functionaries in Costa Rica, has sold UNICEF products around Christmas for most of its existence. Olórtegue, a 20-year member, is one of the association’s 35 ladies. Their group supports children’s homes or feeding programs in Escazú, Santa Ana and Pavas, all west of the capital, and in Barrio Cristo Rey, in San José.

The United Nations Ladies Association sells about 50 styles of UNICEF cards, most for ¢6,300 (about $12) per 10 cards; they also sell calendars, toys and other gifts. The association sells out of its office in Escazú (232-2404), and through Librería Internacional bookstores.


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