Students ate and teachers sang, enabling the Shung Tak Catholic English College to raise a record amount for this year's Operation Santa Claus. By the time the last grain of rice had been eaten and last song had been sung at the end of the Yuen Long school's three-day fund-raising drive on Friday, a total of $34,500 had been raised. This is the eighth year the school has raised money for OSC, which this year will be helping 12 worthy causes. The college raised money in particular to help Lau Wai-cheung, 15, who was paralysed in a diving accident. Some of the college students met him at the official launch of the appeal at Government House on November 17. Brenda Lee, head of the college's OSC fundraising campaign, said the decision to help 'Cheung Tsai' (little Cheung) had been made because he was close to the students' own age. 'And we felt a closeness when we met him personally,' said Ms Lee. 'We are doing this because Christmas is the time for giving, and we are the fortunate ones.' Dr Yi Chung-yiu, who nominated Cheung Tsai for the appeal, visited the school on Friday and talked to students. In the lead-up to the appeal, students racked their brains for ways to raise money. More than 40 ideas were put forward. With some students wearing Santa hats, Thursday's casual dress day, which carried a $10 fee, was a sure-fire fundraiser. Food and handicraft stalls were popular choices. The students and teachers also gave up their regular lunchboxes for such delicacies as fried rice and roast chicken, cooked by students. 'We help the charitable cause by eating more,' said form one student Sharon Chu, 'We have not ordered lunchboxes for these three days.' Handicrafts and knick-knacks were also popular sale items which, from time to time, prompted spirited bargaining. Fortune-telling also got a run, but just how accurate the predictions were remains to be seen. A band made up of Form Six students played Christmas and pop songs for money at lunchtimes. The concerts were spiced up by students dedicating songs to each other and teachers singing, but only after making donations to the good cause. Although too young to vote in local government elections, students got into the swing of nominating candidates and voting ... not for politicians, but for Handsome Boy and Pretty Girl. And unlike the recent District Council elections, the votes cost a dollar each.