CASTRO OR its PR people have dreamed up a great way to boost the company's sales while simultaneously contributing to the community and getting other people to do the same. Starting today (Thursday), Castro is launching the Jeans Project; it is inviting the public to bring in a pair of jeans of any brand and vintage to a Castro or Castro Man store and receive NIS 100 toward the purchase of a new pair of Castro jeans. The second-hand jeans will be placed in boxes in all the Castro stores and transferred to organizations that deal with youth at risk. Even though the jeans are second-hand, to youngsters who have run away from home to places like Elem and Beit Hashanti, or who come from families that can barely provide them with anything, the jeans - especially those with designer labels - will be a boon. For people who find it difficult to part with certain items of clothing, the incentive will be two-fold: They can do something for the less fortunate, and they can instantly replace their old jeans with new ones. The Jeans Project campaign will also feature on the Internet via Next In and Teenk Marketing Consultants. The project will remain in force until February 28. REPRESENTATIVES OF the Tourism Ministry and local travel and hospitality industries are having a hard time marketing Israel these days. It's not just the economic crunch that is influencing people's decisions about where to spend a vacation, but also sociopolitical and security considerations. Those people who do come to Israel are often surprised to discover how peaceful a country it is in relation to what they've seen on television. Foremost among those who continue to come to Israel regardless of the situation are groups affiliated with Christian ministries. To further enhance this desire to visit the Holy Land, IPrayTV, a provider of Internet broadcast services to faith-based organizations linking ministries to holy sites through simulcast, will be showcasing its vision of on-line Christian communications at the four-day 2009 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, that begins Saturday. Since its launch during the October 2008 Feast of Tabernacles, the site quickly gained popularity throughout Christian communities worldwide and will now have the opportunity to join with other leaders in this field to build on this momentum. VOTING, ASIDE from being a democratic right, is a civic duty. To ensure that Israelis living abroad or working temporarily overseas can exercise their voting rights, El Al has mounted a special campaign to bring them home in time for Election Day next Tuesday. El Al has reduced the cost of round-trip fares by as much as 25 percent for Israelis flying home to vote. FOR SALE and For Rent signs can be seen in profusion all over Israel - and not just because property owners who have become victims of the economic meltdown are desperately in need of cash. Over the last 18 months there has been a tremendous construction boom. Huge residential complexes are going up at such a pace that it would almost seem property developers had been spurred by a premonition of the global anti-Semitism that is now prompting many Jews to give serious thought to aliya. While newspapers keep running stories about the difficulties currently confronting the real-estate market, Gindi Holdings is laughing all the way to the bank. At a sales convention it hosted last week, the company sold 195 apartments in the Gindi Boulevard project in Petah Tikva within a span of only four hours! As far as the company's proprietors, Lital Gindi Matalon and Avi, Guy and Roi Gindi are aware, this is a record for the Israeli market. IN OTHER real-estate news, Zvia Leviev Alazarov, who chairs the board of Africa Israel Residences, together with company CEO Gili Dekel and building contractor and developer Sami Matzlawi, are taking part in the development of Yahud. They recently celebrated the completion of Stage B of the Savyonim Towers project in Yahud, with a reception for the apartment owners who are in the process of moving into their new homes. Also present was Yahud Mayor Yossi Ben-David, who spoke about the growth and transformation of his town and the positive developments that can be seen as a result of investments by land and property developers. Ben-David expects to see a population growth of some 18% during 2009, as people from other parts of the country learn about the quality of life that they can get in Yahud for a much lower price than in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Three- to five-room apartments built to high standards are available at prices ranging from NIS 1 million to NIS 1.4m. Penthouse apartments measuring 189 square meters plus a 119-sq.-m. balcony are selling for NIS 2m. Africa Israel is not resting on its laurels; it has mounted an NIS 800,000 campaign for the sale of apartments in one of the 13 Savyonim neighborhoods that it has developed in different parts of the country. The incentive is a 15% down payment on purchase and the interest-free balance on receipt of the apartment once it is ready for occupancy. Construction on the apartments did not begin simultaneously, so they are all in various stages of completion. Depending on the current stage of any given complex, occupancy can be estimated at somewhere between 15-24 months. WITH TU B'SHVAT around the corner, Purim is not far behind and will be upon us before we know it. Pastry sections of supermarkets have already begun to include Oznei Haman on their display counters, and dollar stores have cleared large sections of their premises to make room for Purim costumes and accessories. Toys R Us, the largest toys and games chain in Israel, with 24 existing branches and two more planned for the end of February, has launched a NIS 1.5m. advertising campaign with Gimmel Yafit that will include a special Web site that will enable children and parents to see some of the available costumes and accessories before they actually set foot in one of the stores in the chain. Several factors will influence this year's choices, says Toys R Us marketing manager Anat Nativ. One is the economic crisis, which will lead to careful consideration on expenditure and a much stronger desire than in the past to get good value for money. Toward this end, costumes that require accessories to convey the full impression will have accessories included. Another consideration is the fact that today's youngsters have new stars, including those from reality shows, and are less interested in traditional costumes. No less important is the quality and safety of the costume. Parents want to be sure that there are no materials in the costumes that will in any way be harmful to their children. EVEN BEFORE Purim comes Valentine's Day, a not particularly Jewish festival but one that Israelis have adopted in preference to the traditionally Jewish Tu B'Av, because Israel wants to be like the rest of the world on hearts-and-flowers days - and because Valentine's Day provides yet another hook for PR people, advertising agencies and retailers to make money. Roladin and other pastry specialists are producing heart-shaped cakes. Max Brenner is producing heart-shaped chocolates with delicious fillings. Padani has a collection of heart-shaped jewelry items. Intima is showing the sexiest of sleepwear and lingerie, while Zer4U is including a book and a bottle of wine in its flower arrangements. Companies in other branches of industry and commerce are coming up with all kinds of romantic gimmicks with which to lure customers.