Financial house Merrill Lynch is aiming to set a new fundraising record this year, after it became Operation Santa Claus' largest corporate donor in 2004. The firm kicked off this year's campaign with another office mini-golf tournament yesterday. After three hours of solid putting - and the occasional double bogey - through a nine-hole course of desks, chairs and office supplies, more than 100 employees racked up $120,000 in donations. Siu Kei-hui's technology team emerged with the lowest score of 27 and won a round of golf for four at the Palm Island Resort. Matthew Chan's global private client team amassed the biggest sponsorship total, securing $40,000. 'This is a great start to this year's campaign,' said Vivian Cheung, a Merrill Lynch director and this year's chairwoman of the firm's Operation Santa Claus Committee. 'It is the eighth year that Merrill Lynch has participated in Operation Santa Claus and our employees have shown overwhelming support.' Merrill Lynch has raised more than $4 million for Operation Santa Claus since 1998. Last year employees pulled in $1 million in donations, far more than its $650,000 target, making it the largest corporate donor of the year. 'Responsible citizenship is one of Merrill Lynch's core principles,' said Raymond Wong, an assistant vice-president with the investment bank. 'We are particularly focused on children in our charitable efforts.' Besides the mini-golf, the annual Merrill Lynch Operation Santa Claus Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Mission Hills in Shenzhen next month, said Konrad Li, an assistant vice-president. Operation Santa Claus merchandise will also be sold at office events over the coming weeks.