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L-Istrina mobilises banks to donate cash

Renowned for keeping money under lock and key, banks used last Wednesday’s L-Istrina charity telethon to show they can be pretty good at giving it away too.

Contributions by Banif bank, Bank of Valletta and HSBC ended up making up almost one-fifth of the record €3.3 million pot gathered in aid of the Community Chest Fund.

And donations of over €50,000 made by seven charitable high-rollers totalled €1.16 million – more than a third of the entire total.

Banif’s €292,000 cheque was the event’s single largest contribution. The sum was collected through this year’s President’s charity fun run, which saw a record 13,000 runners and walkers lace up their jogging shoes earlier this month.

Bank of Valletta’s piggy bank campaign, through which the bank placed a piggy bank in every classroom in Malta and Gozo, was a resounding success and helped the bank sign a €210,000 cheque for L-Istrina.

Driving enthusiasts who lined up to see Lewis Hamilton, the world’s fastest Ferrari and hundreds of classic and vintage cars earlier in December helped Paqpaqli Ghall-Istrina raise €178,000, while cookbook Tisjir Mill-Qalb added a further €176,000.

Hosts Smart City reached deep into their wallets and forked out €100,000, a figure matched by HSBC. This year’s Fine Arts auction raised a further €52,000, while the Good Causes Fund rounded off the list of heavy hitters with a €50,000 donation.

Facts and figures related to L-Istrina charity campaign held on Boxing Day

Donations to Wednesday’s charity bonanza L-Istrina flooded in at an eye-popping eight per second during peak times, as some 100,000 individuals dipped into their pocket to help the Community Chest Fund.

The record-breaking €3.3 million haul means that on average every man, woman and child in Malta contributed €8.25 towards the charity pot. If you deduct the 40,000-odd children across the island, the average contribution rises to more than €9 per person.

President George Abela shared some of these figures yesterday morning, as he and other organisers basked in the afterglow of the most monetarily successful L-Istrina charity drive in history.

The €10 phone donation proved to be the most popular

contribution, followed by €25, €15 and SMS donations of €6.99 and €11.65 respectively. A last-gasp push for donations also saw a flurry of 3,000 people call in with €5 donations.

Overall, the people calling and texting in donations built up a charity kitty just shy of €1 million.

Large corporate sponsors of €50,000 or more left organisers with a further €1.15 million nest egg, with cash donations and smaller corporate cheques raking in another €1.14 million. Just under 2,000 technologically-minded donors donated another €52,000 via Facebook.

Those who let hairdressers loose on their beloved coiffures will be pleased to know they contributed two kilometres of hair, which will now be turned into natural hair wigs for use by cancer patients.

A 70-phone switchboard could barely keep up at times, said Mr Abela. “There were moments when we had too many people on the line and people ended up being put through to the answering machines,” he said. Donations were still processed for such calls.

L-Istrina organising committee chairman Mark Mallia said phone lines were busy even when the programme was off the air.

“We took a half-hour break for the news bulletins, but people kept calling throughout. There was the odd lull whenever there was a big per­formance on stage, presumably because people are too busy watching to phone. But phone volunteers barely had a spare minute,” Major Mallia said.

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