San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

UNICEF, PriceSmart Launch Campaign for Kids

Shoppers at Costa Rica’s four PriceSmart stores can now do more than buy in bulk – a joint campaign with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) lets shoppers donate to help children affected by natural disasters right at the cash register.

The campaign was launched Nov. 1 and runs through January 2007. It is being carried out at Costa Rica’s PriceSmart stores, all of which are in the San José area in Tibás and Heredia, to the north, Escazú, to the west, and Zapote, to the east.

Upon paying, shoppers will be asked if they would like to add ¢520 (about $1) to their bill, and they can add more if they like, explained UNICEF communications assistant Michael Martin.

The program has been successful so far –one shopper even added $100 to his bill, Martin said.

This money goes toward UNICEF programs to assist children and adolescents in emergency situations, including the Return the Joy program, carried out by UNICEF with the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the Red Cross and the National Emergency Commission (CNE), according to a statement from UNICEF. This program provides games and activities to help children who have been affected by disaster to cope psychologically.

Every year in Costa Rica, families on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts are affected by floods that “aggravate situations of poverty, violence and abuse in which children live,” the statement said.

In 2003, 3,000 children and adolescents were affected by floods in the Caribbean province of Limón alone.

Natural disasters often strip children of their right to recreation, and the campaign seeks to make sure they are guaranteed this right through help from the private sector.

The campaign is also being carried out in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica.


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