16.5m reasons to say thank you
Raising funds for charitable causes is not easy at the best of times. But when the economic outlook is uncertain, it becomes even more challenging. The record sum of more than HK$16.5 million raised by Operation Santa Claus is, therefore, impressive. It is a credit to the many people who took part in the campaign, from schoolchildren to the senior executives of multinational corporations.
What sets Operation Santa Claus apart is not just the advantage of the print and electronic media support for the appeal afforded by the joint organisers, the South China Morning Post and RTHK. It also adopts many different community causes and projects every year, including some which are not well known and lack other sources of funding. As a result, the HK$170 million raised since it was launched in 1988 has been shared by well over 100 charities.
The latest campaign, from mid-November to the end of last month, was for 16 beneficiaries, including charities for children, the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged.
Concerns that the economic climate might dampen enthusiasm for the campaign were quickly dispelled, with eight new major corporate donors, more money-raising activities and more participants.
Economic doom and gloom has never affected Hong Kong's reputation for generosity to those in need. The city's capacity for giving was on show at yesterday's closing ceremony. The final figure unveiled was HK$16,533,796,160 - compared with around HK$100,000 donated in the first appeal 24 years ago, when the Post and RTHK launched the first significant charity drive in the English language. The campaign has grown substantially over the years.
Back then Hong Kong was still in transition from trading port to the prosperous financial centre it is today. Nowadays multinationals, local companies large and small, interest groups and individuals join hands to give their time, expertise and money. It is truly a community effort for the common good of which Hong Kong people can be proud.