CHRISTMAS is big business for charities looking to boost their coffers. Charity Christmas cards are now common, and a number of institutions have gone further to make items which could make great presents, too. One of these enterprising charities is the Spastics' Association of Hong Kong which will be at the Christmas Showcase - from today until Tuesday - selling the craft goods made by disabled adults. From a table on level seven at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Spastics' Association will be selling such handmade items as dog baskets, dog leads, book markers, cushions, weaving items and pottery. Among the eye-catching ceramics, shoppers can choose from such items as jewellery to vases, and even a mobile phone holder. Prices ranging from $15 to $300 should suit any pocket, All the money raised from the Christmas sale will go to buy new equipment and raw materials for the association's workshops and to pay the wages of the disabled workers. The Spastics' Association believes it is important for disabled people to be employed in the workshops because ''it gives them a chance to prove themselves'', said May Cann, administrative assistant at the association. Mrs Cann said that disabled people were like everyone else in that they needed to work to feel like useful members of society. In recent years, the charity has encouraged an increasing number of disabled people to take up pottery in addition to other forms of craft work because ''it appealed to the more creative members of the handicapped community''. Introducing potters' wheels into the association's workshops was an innovation not only for disabled people but for Hong kong itself, said Mrs Cann. The ceramics industry had barely existed in the territory before. Indeed, recent expansion of the association's workshops - from three to five earlier this year - has meant that ceramics and the rest of the crafts industry in Hong kong is now a growing business. More than 500 disabled people are employed at the Spastics' Association workshops, with plans to expand this number to 600 in the near future. However, buying products made in the workshops was not always that easy for potential customers, because the association only had a limited number of sales outlets, Mrs Cann said. The Christmas Showcase is, therefore, an ideal opportunity to make a purchase. Mrs Cann said the participation of the Spastics' Association at the event was also important for ''public education''. Referring to the opposition by some Hong Kong residents to the opening of centres for disabled people in the territory, Erik Kvan, the chairman of the Spastics' Association, said: ''Some sections of society obviously do not yet understand the true natureof disabilities and how the disabled contribute to the welfare of all.'' Mrs Cann said that by taking part in the Showcase, the charity would be able to show people what disabled people could achieve. In addition to its workshops, the Spastics' Association conducts pre-school centres, schools and hostels as part of a wide rehabilitation service for all ages of disabled people.