Operation Santa Claus brings out the best in Hong Kong's generous spirit
Christmas is in the air again. Colourful lights and decorations are being put up across the city. It is the season for hoping, loving and caring. It is also a time to give and share.
Christmas provides one more reason to rejoice this year. Operation Santa Claus, the annual fund-raising campaign co-organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the years it has raised more than HK$170 million for more than 150 charitable projects. It is encouraging to see the generosity has lived on for a quarter of a century. It is an achievement that we can be truly proud of.
Few could have expected that a humble fundraising bid would turn into a signature event with wide community support. The tradition began in the 60s with RTHK radio presenters performing publicity stunts to raise money for charities, such as diving into Victoria Harbour in the winter cold, reading poetry on rooftops and climbing flagpoles, among other capers. This paper formally partnered with the government broadcaster in 1988 and raised HK$100,000 for one beneficiary. Since then, the campaign has received wider support. News coverage on the recipients and how they benefit also enhances accountability on how the money is used.
Over the years, our economy has experienced its ups and downs. But the community has remained as generous as ever. Even in times of economic hardship, people are willing to dig deep into their pockets. While it may be true that the city is money-minded, the calls of the needy never go unanswered. Hongkongers always stand ready to give and share.
The same spirit that was on display 25 years ago lives on today, with another exciting campaign now under way. One of the silver jubilee highlights is an auction, with the winners getting to lunch with movie star Jacky Chan or enjoying a private performance by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's concertmaster and cellist. The money raised in the coming weeks will go a long way, helping 18 organisations for the disabled, youth, children, elderly and the environment.
Christmas is a time for joy and hope. As we celebrate the festive season, let's not forget this spirit of giving and build on past achievements. You can be part of this good corporate citizenship too.