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Operation Santa Claus

Young volunteer gardeners teach the elderly about flowers at care home workshops

As part of Operation Santa Claus, kids have been holding workshops at a care home to teach residents about planting flowers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 7:46pm

Green-fingered youngsters have been teaching elderly residents about planting flowers at a care home in Sha Tin, as part of a project involved in this year’s Operation Santa Claus.

“I think grownups always think they are right, old people are more cute and they smile prettily,” said 8-year-old Polly Lau, who volunteered at the home.

Polly was one of 18 children, aged seven to 10, who volunteered to teach at a special flower planting workshop to two dozen residents at Ho Shing Home for the Elderly. Like the other children, Polly is no stranger to her “students” as it was their third time at the centre.

“They are not too difficult to teach, it’s just that sometimes you have to speak up and talk close to their ears to make sure they can hear you,” Polly said.

“We are teaching you how to plant in this pot so you can look at the plants often. Looking at green things are good for the eyes,” Polly explained, rather loudly, to 96-year-old Kwok Luin-chi while she helped her to put mud into a pot, ready for flower seeds.

The potted plants will be given to donors who have pledged to raise funds for Operation Santa Claus, the annual fundraiser jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways

The majority of the plants had so far gone to a garden corner in the elderly home.

Kwok, whose granddaughters are in Canada, said she feels delighted to be surrounded by many children as she only gets to see the children in her family once a year. “They are smart and they behave well,” she said of the young volunteers.

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These youngsters from underprivileged families who live in cubicle homes in Tai Kok Tsui are familiar with volunteering as they have encountered people who volunteered to assist their own growth and learning. They have engaged in eight months of programmes learning under the themes “green” and “care” run with the support of staff volunteers from the property developer Sino Group, one of the donors supporting this year’s Operation Santa Claus.

“Doing volunteer work is more than an act to give back to the society, I also have a lot to take away myself,” says Alexander Ng Win-yew, executive assistant to the group chairman. “Spending time with children and elderly people made me see so much wisdom in them, and it seems like I am the one who knows the least in flower planting,” he said.