Buying in shopping centres and spending in fresh markets can also be a way to contribute to charities. That is the idea behind The Link Management's initiative to provide aid to the People's Food Bank of St James' Settlement. The manager of The Link Reit, a real estate investment trust, launched a spending incentive campaign before Christmas to donate food to disadvantaged people and boost retail business on its premises. The campaign is part of the management's year-end charity efforts, which also include support for the 13 beneficiaries of Operation Santa Claus this year. In addition, consumers were encouraged to contribute well-packaged food not expiring within eight weeks to the Christmas Food Trees at seven shopping centres until Friday. The Link will donate one gram of rice for every raffle ticket given to shoppers who buy designated food or goods at its 54 fresh markets. It will also carry out a matching scheme to buy milk powder for the food bank. The value of the powder will be equivalent to the amount spent by the biggest spender in a single day at the 109 shopping centres of The Link Management during the promotion. The People's Food Bank of St James' Settlement, a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus in 2005, said the help had arrived just in time. 'There has been a sharp increase in the demand for food since the outbreak of the financial tsunami,' said Connie Ng Man-yin, centre supervisor of the food bank. 'Now we are running out of our rice reserve.' The food bank's latest statistics show that 1,020 people received meals from the group each day last month, almost double the number in September. Of them, 22 per cent were unemployed, compared to 17 per cent in September. Each registered recipient would receive a 3kg bag of rice, seven tins of canned food and seven packages of instant noodles per week, Ms Ng said. Lam Lit-kwan, asset management director of The Link Management, hoped the public would join their efforts to help people in need. 'It's not necessary to be rich to help others,' said Ms Lam. 'Even a package of instant noodles counts.' She said the company planned to install permanent donation boxes for the food bank in some of its shopping centres.