Almost $70 million has been collected as a result of the many different fund-raising efforts in Hong Kong in recent weeks to help in the fight against Sars. It is one of the biggest sums ever donated by the public for a community cause. Businesses, political parties, government officials, newspapers and community organisations have all pitched in to raise cash for those hit by the outbreak, from orphaned children to frontline health workers. The plight of those affected by Sars has touched the city, with thousands digging into their pockets, undeterred by the economic downturn. The sum raised in just a few weeks almost matches that donated for victims of major disasters, such as the $71 million collected by the Hong Kong Red Cross for flood relief in China in 1994. More than $20 million has been collected for the 'Business Community Relief Fund for Victims of Sars', which was spearheaded by the Liberal Party. The 'We Care Education Fund' managed by the Social Welfare Department, which aims to raise money to help pay for the education of children who have lost their parents because of the deadly virus, also raised more than $20 million. 'We thank the enthusiastic donors very much and will try our best to make use of the funds to help those children most in need,' a department spokeswoman said yesterday. Other major fund-raising drives included the Community Chest of Hong Kong's 'Operation UNITE' fund, which has raised about $11 million since Tuesday, and the South China Morning Post's 'Project Shield', which raised more than $17 million from April 25 until its suspension on Tuesday. More than $1 million has been raised by the 'Project Blossom' fund, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild and Ming Pao. Money has also been raised by the Apple Daily charitable foundation, Sing Tao Foundation, the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisation and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union.