The magic of Christmas is very much in our thoughts at this time of year. But it is experienced in many different ways. Typically, we conjure in our minds a picture of a child gazing in wonder at the lights on a Christmas tree, or being unable to suppress the excitement felt at receiving a present. But Christmas also works its magic in a bigger, deeper way, in keeping with the nature of the modern-day celebration. The magic is experienced through giving, through helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves. The tradition has its roots in the first Christmas, when three wise men bearing gifts visited the baby Jesus. But the giving is not restricted to members of the Christian faith. It can be - and is - embraced by people of all religions. It is an activity that the whole community can enjoy. In Hong Kong, the magic can be experienced by taking part in Operation Santa Claus. For the past 16 years, this newspaper has joined forces with RTHK in a joint campaign to tap into our society's spirit of generosity to help those in need. From a modest beginning in 1988, when $101,000 was raised, Operation Santa Claus has collected a total of more than $60 million for a wide variety of worthy causes. This year's campaign was launched at Government House this week, with the help of honorary patron Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping and Canto pop star Karen Mok Man-wai. Last year, the campaign took on a new form. Instead of asking the community to support a single cause, it selected 12 different beneficiaries, one for each of the traditional days of Christmas. The formula has been adopted again this year. The beneficiaries include organisations and individuals. Their circumstances are very different, and so are their Christmas wishes. But they have one thing in common: they very much need the community's help. With such support, that help can be provided in ways which make a real improvement in people's lives. Training assistants can be provided to help disabled children learn how to ride horses. Funds can help establish an examination and assessment centre for people who may be suffering from dementia. And much-needed transport could be made available for youngsters who have been in trouble with the police, but are now learning discipline and skills through training in boxing and rugby. The families of people suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, children in hospitals and the deaf are also among this year's beneficiaries. Hong Kong people are often said to be interested only in making money. But our community has on many occasions shown its capacity to dig deep and help those in need. Once again this year, Operation Santa Claus provides an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the magic of Christmas.