A new way of donating money to support people, popular in other European countries, is the donation of the deposit sum when returning bottles and cans. For the time being, only Lidl stores offer this in Latvia, but other retail networks also promise that, in the near future, the opportunity would be provided.
“Immediately after the transfer of the container [..] a screen of two choices appears. One of them is the usual green to get a voucher printed. Another button, orange, indicates the possibility of donation," said Lidl network spokesman Ingars Rudzītis said.
The money donated by Lidl is going to the senior support project “Age is not Loneliness”, which is implemented by the Association of Samaritans of Latvia. In the first two and a half months, EUR 1,300 or 13,000 units of containers have provided donations in this way.
“Of course, we hope that by Christmas, when the spirit of donation prevails in us more, that number will rise. We can say that the largest donation activity is in Rīga shops, where there are large suburbs and there are many people. Outside Rīga, most have been donated in Ogre, but the least in Tukums. These funds are spent in support of local seniors. [..] We've seen dads coming with children, and children have a great adventure to hand over empty bottles and in the end press the donation button and they have done a good job,” the Lidl spokesman said.
Rudzitis pointed out that donor interest is not that high yet, but this is a new experience that needs getting used to.
“Rimi” spokesman Juris Šleiers said the possibilities for donating are varied, such as dropping money into donating boxes at cash registers, have the option of donating money accumulated on a loyalty card, buying donating coupons in the e-shop, buying specific products, in this way donating money to a particular purpose. However, given the trend that people are increasingly choosing not to hold cash in their wallets, Latvian Radio asked Šleiers, which donation channel was the most popular.
“The boxes are still a very efficient and popular way. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through Rimi during the week, and it is still far more than e-shop users. Boxes are a very powerful money-raising channel,” said Rimi's spokesman.
Maxima spokeswoman Laura Bagātā also said that the donation boxes are popular for the time being, while various digital tools are increasingly being used in donating campaigns.
Andris Bērziņš, director of the Association of Samaritans of Latvia, said that cooperation with retail networks has been in place since 2008, when the country was in an economic crisis, and the provision of help to fellow people has not abated at the moment.
“Christmas time is a time when we think about other values, about our place in the world and other people [..]. And there is this tradition that donating is greater during Christmas,” Bērziņš said.