January 30, 2009

Icelanders donate sweaters to chilly Brits

A container of Icelandic sweaters arrived in England this week, donated by radio listeners moved by a story about the elderly dying from the cold.

Heimir Karlsson, a radio presenter who helped organize the collection, said that Bylgjan, the radio station, challenged listeners to fill the container in four days, the BBC reported.

Families, some from far away, came one after another with garments to fill the container, he said.

The container was sent to the port of Hull on England's east coast, which has a sister city relationship with Reykjavik.

Karlsson said his listeners were shocked to learn that thousands of elderly die in Britain every winter. One of Iceland's advantages is cheap thermal energy with most homes getting heat and hot water from the many hot springs.

The gesture could be good public relations. Iceland's banking system, which collapsed in October, held millions of dollars in British deposits.

Karlsson said he was surprised by the attention given the sweater drive.

People are saying that this is the best thing that has happened to us since the collapse of the banking system, Karlsson told the Reykjavik newspaper Morgunbladid.