Schools are invited to come up with fun events to help raise funds for Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity extravaganza organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. Now in its 18th year, the campaign has benefited Hong Kong's needy during the festive season. It has so far raised more than $67 million in cash, goods and services for 39 local charities. Last year, a record-breaking $7.2 million were raised for 12 worthy causes. Like last year, the Operation Santa Claus Education Tree will be published weekly in Young Post to provide an update of the sum raised by schools for the beneficiaries. Since it was launched in 1988, the campaign has been urging all sections of the community, including corporations, clubs, schools and individuals, to take part in fund-raising activities. The organisers also hope to raise public awareness of the charity organisations and the people they help. This year's 12 beneficiaries are being selected from a huge pool nominated by the public. They will be announced in mid-November. Each organisation will be featured in the SCMP so the public will get a better understanding of their work. Last year, more than $260,000 were collected from 16 kindergartens and primary and secondary schools. It was a huge effort by students, teachers and parents, whose creativity and generosity led to many successful fund-raising activities, such as Christmas carol concerts, Christmas card, bakery and student art sales, fun fairs, pyjama parties, pancake breakfasts, and even a half-marathon. Natalie Chan, project director of Operation Santa Claus, encourages schools to take part. 'We hope more schools will join us this year. The main purpose of Operation Santa Claus is to offer the public opportunities to learn and care about the needy in society,' she said. 'It doesn't matter how much you raise. The goal is to get students involved in a community service. By getting involved, students will be able to enjoy the fun of Christmas and learn different things from organising events. 'Getting involved is as important as showing your concern and support to the underprivileged around us.' The hard work of schools will not go unnoticed. Young Post gave wide coverage to their fund-raising efforts last year and will continue to do so this year.