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As much fun as it is to imagine Pope Francis riding around in a Fiat Panda 4x4, it's even better to know that he is raffling one off — along with a host of other items given to him — to raise money for the poor.
Posters have gone up around the Vatican announcing the raffle of 13 items, including the 4x4, a Panama hat, an espresso maker, a digital camera, a tandem bicycle and other gifts the pope has received, according to reports by Rome's Messagero newspaper and Reuters. There also will be 30 other "consolation prizes": items that in the past were given away to missions or kept in a Vatican warehouse.
Raffle tickets costing 10 euros ($12.50) are available only in Rome, at such locations as the Vatican's tourist bureau and the post office. The winners will be announced on Jan. 8, and the proceeds go toward the pope's charity for the poor.
Since being named pope in March of 2013, Francis has made concern for the poor a priority of his papacy. He recently instructed his papal almoner, Father Corrado Krajewski, to spearhead a project to install shower stalls in the bathrooms in St. Peter's Square that would allow the homeless to shower regularly.