Operation Santa Claus has once again been a great success, far exceeding expectations. In a year when recession dominated the headlines, the co-ordinators were cautious not to set their sights too high and disappoint the children who benefit from the money raised. Today, the total has reached a staggering $3,311,671. The generosity shown across the board, from major sponsors to the children who gave their pocket money was extraordinary. Christmas cheer was felt everywhere as Hong Kong participated in Operation Santa Claus 1998 - the 11th year of the charity drive. Schools, clubs, companies and individuals all held special events to help children in need. The beneficiary of this year's Operation Santa Claus, the Ing Mei Orphanage Fund, is delighted with the outcome of the campaign. 'We are amazed at the generosity that people have shown, especially in today's economic climate,' said Nathalie Rahman, president of the fund. 'Moreover, we are really pleased at the awareness that has been raised for the plight of under-privileged and handicapped children.' The charitable organisation works closely with the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation to raise funds for orphanages and care centres on the mainland and in the SAR. Contributions will be used to buy special equipment and to provide staff training. Money is still pouring in and although the campaign is now officially over, donations will be accepted until January 14 when the final total for this year's campaign will be revealed. Thanks to all those who gave so much of their time and effort to Operation Santa Claus 1998. We wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.