It depends on the city and the shopping mall. In my city in Canada there was a tree in WalMart that had pieces of paper with the age and sex of a needy child written on it (for example, 5 year-old girl). The practice was to buy a gift for one of those children if you could afford it and give it to the staff at the store. Some people bought for more than one child and some couldn't afford to buy for any. The store staff would forward the gifts to a group who organizes such things.
Another group in my city who did such things was the Fire Department. Every year they would raise money for toys to be given to needy children. While I could never afford to buy any full toys for children, I always gave some of my small change to the firemen.
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