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Mugdha Variyar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, December 23, 2012
Listless patients in the children's ward of a city cancer hospital were in for an early Christmas surprise on Saturday, when they were showered with a total of 500 gifts, including toys, books and video games.

The gifts came from netizens who had signed for #MumbaiSecretSanta, an online version of the Christmas game where colleagues, classmates or friends pick names blindly from a pool and anonymously buy a gift for the person thus assigned to them.

The Twitter hashtag was started by businessman Dardhan Parekh, a Juhu resident, to encourage 'Net friends' to exchange gifts.

Six days ago, make-up artist Piyu Palkar from Vile Parle added a social-cause element, urging Parekh to set up five special drop boxes in the Juhu-Bandra area and use his Secret Santa programme to encourage Mumbaiites to drop anonymous gifts in them.

"The children were thrilled," said Dr S Banavalli, head of pediatric oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital.

"They are all under 10 and were very excited to get so many gifts from 'Santa Claus'."