JPMorgan's efforts bring libraries for Yuen Long, Wong Tai Sin youngsters
'I like romantic stories,' was the tantalising one-liner from 11-year-old Tommy Lee Tze-ho as he arrived at a distinctly bookish Christmas party.
But Tommy, from Yuen Long, refused to elaborate as he joined 13 other children who visit the Yan Oi Tong family centres in Yuen Long and Wong Tai Sin for the party thrown by JPMorgan to celebrate a fund-raising effort that has raised more than HK$1 million for Operation Santa Claus.
When the charity Yan Oi Tong approached Operation Santa Claus - which is co-organised by RTHK and the South China Morning Post - with a funding proposal earlier this year, it was for two reading corners for the children who visit its family centres - children from low-income families and new arrivals settling into a strange environment.
But JPMorgan has taken it one step further and, in a partnership with Yan Oi Tong, has held a book collection and raised funding for a library at each centre.
Efforts organised by Jean Sung Seabrook, of JPMorgan, who encouraged staff volunteers to sell ornaments to their 2,300 workmates, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised. And the finance house is matching the staff effort dollar for dollar.
'We're very grateful to JPMorgan for showing this generosity,' said head of Radio 3 RTHK Bryan Curtis. 'There's nothing better than children at this festive time ... and carolling and money!'
'Our fund-raising efforts focus on children and education,' said Michael Fung Yue-ming, chief executive of the HK branch of JPMorgan, at the party in Chater House that involved the JPMorgan Christmas choir singing carols and the arrival of Santa Claus with presents for the children.
Annie Cheung King-wai, the director of Yan Oi Tong, is proud of the new partnership with JPMorgan, which will not only fund the libraries but also means members of JPMorgan staff volunteering for reading with the children.
'With the co-operation of JPMorgan we can help break the cycle of cross-generational poverty,' she said.
Lau Kwong-kit, social-services manager of Yan Oi Tong, said an architect from the real estate division of JPMorgan had visited the charity's rented premises in Yuen Long.
He said: 'JPMorgan arranged for an architect to take a look at the centre and see where to break a wall and where to put up the shelves so that we can start at the beginning of next year. This project will help children in the northwest New Territories cultivate reading habits and improve their relationship with their parents.'
Yan Oi Tong's project to provide two libraries for the children is to encourage good reading habits and also provide the opportunity for shared reading with their parents and educational puppet shows from the stories they have read.
Michael Lam Chun-mo, nine, from Wong Tai Sin, was very pleased with the appearance of Santa and his present from JPMorgan.
'My family don't celebrate Christmas,' he said. 'So I've enjoyed all this fun with a lot of people. And the food is great. I like reading comics and story books.'
His sister, Kitty Lam Lai-shan, seven, had never been to Central. She also said she liked comic books.