Santa brings big smiles to small visitors
Children get a chance to meet the man of the season in person and have a snap to take home, while helping raise money for a special school
Children who want to visit Santa Claus in his grotto no longer need to take a magical flight to the North Pole.
Instead they can get along to Admiralty, where Santa has set up a temporary workshop at the Pacific Place mall and is throwing the doors open to families to raise money for people in need.
For HK$100, a group of up to four people can visit the festive-themed grotto and pick up an instant photo with Santa between now and Christmas Day.
All proceeds go to Operation Santa Claus, a campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK to raise funds for 18 charitable organisations, including the Watchdog Early Education Centre.
Mall bosses invited a group of children with special needs from the centre to come along and meet Santa for free, along with their families. The youngest member of the party was just two-weeks-old.
"You feel the love and warmth of the people here. It's a great experience for the kids to meet Santa," said Bernadette Vicente, who brought her two sons, Sam, five, and Kevin, four. Sam's speech development was delayed and he has been receiving speech therapy at the centre. The family is often apart because the boys' father, John, must travel a lot for his work. "This is the first year we're finally together as a family," she added.
"We're from the Philippines and we don't have cold winters there," said John, as he admired the mall's festive decorations. "My kids haven't seen such a large Christmas tree."
Sam has shown good progress since teachers at his school spotted the delay to his speech development and referred him to the centre for help.
"We have even seen children at the centre go from only being able to look at you and nod to becoming able to speak," his father said.
Another parent, Paul Yiu Chi-wai, said: "The children were very excited to see Santa. It's especially beneficial to children from Watchdog, such as those who have autism, as it helps improve their social skills."
Operation Santa Claus is raising funds to help upgrade the centre's occupational therapy and physiotherapy facilities as some of them are worn out.
In celebration of the festive season, the Swire Properties-owned mall has been decorated with Santa's helpers - robot elves, reindeer and snowmen - who are helping him sort children's letters and make a list of presents.
- Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com
- Donate at an ATM or at any HSBC branch (account no: 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
- You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories
- Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt, with your name, address and phone number, to the above address. Please call 2680 8159 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries, or visit us online at osc.scmp.com