YOU can skip this article and move on to something else on this page. Or you can bring hope to a desperately needy person. It is your choice. For those of you who have chosen to stay with us, I want you to spend just a few minutes, the time it takes for you to read this article, to think about a small group of people who have had a huge effect on our lives, and yet who few of us have ever met. These people are tireless workers, but they toil away behind the scenes. The results of their labours shape our lives, yet few of us ever get a chance to thank them. Recent events in the financial world have left them in dire straits, deeply concerned about their future. I am talking about the men and women of Hong Kong who have been hardest hit by the downturn: the property developers. Yes, while you and I have been occupying ourselves with our trivial day-to-day activities, such as earning a crust for our children, these unsung heroes have been labouring day and night to make Hong Kong what it is today: an unstable economy founded on a property asset bubble. The bursting of that bubble has been hard for all of us. But in financial terms, the suffering of the average citizen has been nothing compared to the wounds inflicted upon our humble friend, the property developer. You have lost what, a few tens of thousands of dollars on the stock market? A million or so on the value of your flat? It hurts, I do not deny that. But some property developers have had more than a billion dollars knocked off their net worth. Imagine how you would feel if you spent $870 million on a piece of land in Yuen Long, believing you would make $1.6 billion on the flats you would erect there. Then, without any warning, prices crumble and you discover you can barely make $880 million on it. You have spent hours on the project, yet you are only going to make $10 million on it. Think how that feels. Imagine that you had promised your shareholders that the profit for the company in which they had invested was going to be $5.7 billion. But when results day comes along, you find that it is just $5.3 billion. Because you are the chairman, you have to break the news to shareholders. Think how that feels. Imagine you had been yearning, for a period of minutes, even hours, to buy a Morgan for your classic car collection. But your accountant says: 'Better not.' And you have to satisfy yourself with the 133 classic cars you already own. Think how that feels. The good news is that we Little Guys can now do something to help these worthy people. Just search your home for any old property deeds that you may have lying around and send them to the Help The Property Developers Fund, via this columnist, courtesy of this newspaper. There are other ways to help. Look deep inside your heart. Then circle one of the following paragraphs, adding your signature to the bottom of the page in the presence of an attorney. (a) Thank you for giving me the chance to do something. I will send 20 per cent of my income to the above-mentioned fund for the rest of my life and agree to be sued if I ever stop paying. (b) I will gladly queue up at any off-plan property sales event about which I am informed, and will pay any amount for the flat I am assigned, even if it means re-mortgaging my present home to cover the cost. (c) Please find attached my daughters. I am willing for them to be used in any way that helps you raise cash for the welfare of hard-hit property developers. Fortunately, the Hong Kong Government has chosen to lead the way. It has frozen land sales, so that the still-growing population of Hong Kong will be forced to compete harder for the smaller number of flats ultimately available. This is bad news for the ordinary man and woman in the street who had been hoping to buy somewhere to live at an affordable price. But we do not mind, do we? No, not at all. Tears filled my eyes when I met a down-at-heel property developer at a party recently. He put his predicament in a nutshell: 'In the old days, it meant something to be wealthy. Now you have to be wealthy just to make ends meet.' What do we do once we have sent our deeds and our daughters to the property developers' charity? We start saving from scratch again. Warning: It won't be easy. Pinned above my desk I have the wise words of the great thinker Ernest Haskins. 'Save a little money each month, and at the end of the year, you'll be surprised at how little money you have.'