Hongkongers open their hearts and wallets to victims

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 May, 2008, 12:00am

Youngsters, musicians and shoppers give generously

From politicians to rock stars and children, yesterday was a day the community opened its hearts - and bank accounts - to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

Just about every corner and shopping mall had a collector - more than 60 organisations have been granted permits to collect donations. Political parties such as the Civic Party, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong put aside their differences for the greater good.

Political rivals Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who contested the Legislative Council's Hong Kong Island seat, both attended a function at Times Square to call for donations for the victims.

Charities such as Unicef, the Salvation Army and World Vision Hong Kong directed their energies to various fund-raising events, aiming to capitalise on the fact most people were off work for the weekend.

James Wong, 13, said he was giving his pocket money for the month to the quake victims because so many had been at school. 'It's sad to hear that so many schools fell down and so many children died,' he said.

The Democratic Party and the DAB also both held charity concerts in Tuen Mun and Wong Tai Sin to raise money.

The Confederation of Trade Unions and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood collected donations in various districts and will continue today.

Tam Kwok-kiu, vice-chairman of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said it hoped to raise HK$$100,000.

'I hope to help the victims to reconstruct their homes,' he said. 'There's an immediate need there. You feel really sad when you see the people in the epicentre.'

The Federation of Trade Unions also collected donations at more than 100 locations across the city and will continue today.

Independent musicians from the punk, gothic and rock scenes showed their support with a charity music festival at Aberdeen, cheered on by hundreds of excited fans.

Tickets were HK$100 and all proceeds went to World Vision.

Tim Wong Kam-tim, one of the organisers and also vocalist of Wonder Garl, one of the bands performing, was grateful for the enthusiasm of performers and the public at such short notice. He said there were already 10 groups lined up for a second show on Wednesday.

About 3,000 students - aged from two to 15 - began a 'readathon' at the Victoria Shanghai Academy. School director Maggie Koong Mei-kei said older students would read about earthquakes, and younger ones would read about caring and sharing.

Each student would look for sponsorships starting at HK$10 for 10 minutes of reading time, while the school's charitable trust would have a matching fund aiming to raise HK$500,000.

The school donated HK$500,000 to help the earthquake victims on Thursday.

The Kidney Foundation had called for donations to buy haemodialysis machines as it estimated 4,500 survivors would need immediate treatment for kidney failure.