Organisers of Operation Santa Claus 2004 say they are overwhelmed by the successful fund-raising efforts by the participating schools. 'This year we had amazing response from Hong Kong schools. So far, students at 17 schools have raised more than $247,000 for Operation Santa Claus,' said project director Anita Ritchie. 'Students, parents and teachers have really worked hard this year to help those in need and I also hope that they had a bit of fun while doing so. 'Students from all levels - kindergarten, primary and secondary - helped out this year and the range of creativity was fabulous. We had sales of gingerbread cookies by the student cookery club at West Island School, a singing marathon by Yew Chung primary students, paper flower sales by students of the SKH Lui Ming Choi Secondary School, choral concerts, mini-fairs - the kids and parents really outdid themselves this year and they are the real stars.' She added that a lot of schools said they wanted to do something for Operation Santa Claus, but couldn't for one reason or another. 'So we are hoping that they can make plans to participate next year.' Shun Tak Catholic English College held events over two days and raised $48,888. 'Never have I seen such commitment from students,' teacher Jesuszette de Guzman said. 'In fact, it was hard not to give in to their creative ideas. 'You could even get a prize for guessing the number of jelly beans on a home-made gingerbread house.' Organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, Operation Santa Claus is raising money for 12 selected beneficiaries.