The 'Cruz Roja' or Red Cross in Spain are more used to helping starving people in third world countries. Now, for the first time, they are asking Spanish people to help their fellow countrymen.
According to Spanish newspaper 'El Pais', the Cruz Roja organisation is, for the first time ever, issuing a public appeal to raise money for the hundreds of thousands of people left in a desperate situation in Spain due to the worsening economic crisis.
On Wednesday October 10, the annual fund-raising day for the organisation, thousands of employees and volunteers went out onto the streets asking for money from Spaniards to help Spaniards.
The campaign, under the title 'Ahora + que nunca' (Now more than ever) includes television adverts showing empty fridges and a family trying to share an omelette made from a single egg.
The 'Daily Mail' says the organisation is aiming to raise thirty million euros so that food parcels can be given to the 2.3 million people that have been deemed 'extremely vulnerable'.
The ever increasing unemployment rate and the lack of any real government help means that many more families have been forced into extreme poverty. Figures quoted in the Daily Mail article and elsewhere say that "864,000 could not afford to heat their homes in winter, and 524,000 did not eat a meal with protein in it more than three times per week".
The charity website 'Xperedon' says that the Spanish Red Cross "distributed more than six million kilos and litres of food aid to Spanish citizens in September."
Cruz Roja has been a force for good for one hundred and fifty years but it has usually been places such as Haiti that have been the recipients of the aid money.Queen Sofia is the honorary president of the institution ably assisted by her daughter Princess Elena and her daughter-in-law, Princess Letizia.
The Spanish economy continues in freefall. Standard & Poor rating agency has lowered Spain's credit rating to just above junk, saying in a statement released overnight Wednesday that "In our view, the capacity of Spain's political institutions (both domestic and multilateral) to deal with the severe challenges posed by the current economic and financial crisis is declining".
It would seem that Cruz Roja will have their work cut out to try and help all the people in Spain suffering from the dramatic economic situation for some time to come.