Christmas comes early to many in need during the Operation Santa Claus campaign, but the good work goes on year round. The public and Macquarie financial house last December donated 56,000 cans of food for the needy. The St James' Settlement had asked for only 40,000 cans, said Jacky Cheung Man-kit, supervisor of the charity's People's Food Bank. It was one of the 12 beneficiaries of last year's charity drive, which raised HK$12 million. 'With the funding and donations of food from Operation Santa Claus, we are able to provide food for our clients for virtually the whole year,' Mr Cheung said. 'For the rest of the year we have been able to buy a further 40,000 cans, and also rice and noodles.' St James' Settlement, which has been helping the needy for nearly 60 years, assists people in dire straits. They might be families who suddenly fall on hard times through ill health or unemployment and need temporary help while they apply for welfare assistance. Because the application period 'is now eight weeks rather than the previous six, the client needs our food for longer while they apply for social security, so we now provide assistance for a further two weeks,' Mr Cheung said. He said that HK$40,000 of the money the charity received last year was used to repair and upgrade the food warehouse to ensure it was dry and hygienic. Josephine Lee, the senior manager of St James' Settlement's corporate venture, said the number of partner organisations had grown from 40 to 45. 'These organisations help with targeting those in need and delivery points in areas where there is a high density of poor people, such as Shamshuipo, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai,' she said. Mr Cheung said the charity always needed donations. If you would like to give canned food, rice or noodles, please call: 2975 8777.