Operation Santa Claus set to loosen purse strings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 November, 2010, 12:00am

The Christmas trees are up, the harbourfront lights are on and tonight Hong Kong's giving spirit will be on show for the launch of Operation Santa Claus.

Every year Hongkongers display their generosity by making Operation Santa Claus, jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, one of the biggest events of the festive season.

The annual fund-raising campaign, which is overseen by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, will bring much-needed financial support to more than a dozen Hong Kong-based charities.

Operation Santa Claus celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year and the target has been set high: topping last year's figure of HK$12 million, which was a remarkable result considering the financial hardship of 2009.

This year's campaign is unique for several reasons. Of the 16 beneficiaries that have been chosen, two are innovative social enterprises which promise to bring sustainable and long-lasting change to some of the city's most needy.

Organisers have also teamed up with the Hong Kong America Centre to establish a university student ambassador programme that aims to instil a sense of community work in society's future decision makers.

Over the past 22 years, Operation Santa Claus has raised more than HK$140 million for 103 charities.

It has been an amazing journey since the project's beginnings in 1988 when the grass-roots campaign raised HK$140,000.

The people who make Operation Santa Claus so successful include corporate donors who organise events, students who come up with great ideas to raise money and most importantly the public, who donate anything from HK$5 to HK$5,000.

Your donations make a real difference to those represented by the beneficiary charities, and from today until the new year, the Post will be bringing you the stories behind the organisations that you will be helping.

This year's charities cover a varied cross-section of the community from children and young people to the elderly, from those with little-known medical conditions to the socially-disadvantaged.

The campaign launches tonight on the ground floor of the HSBC building in Central with guests including Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, RTHK broadcasting director Franklin Wong Wah-kay, the Post's editor-in-chief Reginald Chua and Canto-pop singer GEM.

Operation Santa Claus project director Deon Lai, who oversaw last year's efforts, welcomed the start of the new campaign.

'This year, we have committed to more beneficiaries and social enterprises, so we want more people to support us to make the miracle happen again.'