Donors and beneficiaries bask in a job well done
It was a night of celebration as representatives of the 12 beneficiary charities met those from the donors, a chance to reflect on the success and fun of the Operation Santa Claus campaign, which raised more than $12 million - and to think about how the record amount of money raised can be used to help the underprivileged.
After the ceremony, all 12 charities will be asked to submit further proposals in addition to the one for which the initial sum was raised. Operation Santa Claus will follow all projects through the year to monitor how the money is used and report back to the public.
After watching last night's fireworks from a seventh-floor balcony at Disneyland, Tony Shing Li-lim, of the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind, said of the fund-raising result: 'We are very happy with the result. It is so much higher than our expectations. We can do so much with this. I think a lot of blind people, especially newly blind people, can be helped to lead new lives.
Federation chairman Cheung Chan said: 'It also means that more blind people can take part in activities and make new friends.'
Doris Luey, of donor Starbucks, said as well as the good that will be done with the money raised, there had also been huge benefits for the staff involved. 'I think one of the biggest benefits is the education of our younger employees, who learned how to give, and we receive a lot of feedback on that internally,' she said.
Timothy Ma, executive director of the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, one of the 12 beneficiaries, said: 'The funding from Operation Santa Claus will allow us to extend our services for a personal emergency link to 50 young people and children who are at risk or suffer from long-term disease. The service will allow some who were confined to hospital to have the freedom of staying at home.'
May Kwan Wong, executive director of the Hans Andersen Club, said of the fund-raising result: 'It's wonderful. But the result for our charity hasn't just been about the money we have secured for our project. When people became aware of what we were doing in the campaign [paired reading for disadvantaged children], we suddenly received donations of books, including Hans Andersen fairy tales, from parents who said their children had grown up and so they wanted to pass the books on to us. 'It's not just about the money; some people have also contacted us to volunteer.'
Angela Ng Ching-mei, community relations manager of Hong Kong Disneyland, a first-time donor and host of the closing event, said: 'Disney will be taking part next year, most definitely. It's win win; we had fun and they had fun,' she said, referring to the 200 beneficiaries who had a free day out at Disneyland.
Lan Kwai Fong's Allan Zeman said: 'Everyone should be proud of what they have achieved. It was a spectacular achievement. Next year we'll have to break that record. It's a very important event as a lot of these charities are not well supported and they need all the help they can get. To see those people on stage really moves you.'