Despite the economic situation, this year's Operation Santa Claus raised a record HK$570,000 - HK$30,000 more than last year. Little Santas from 28 schools raised the record sum through charity events to help the needy in Hong Kong and Sichuan . Even the students who helped organise OSC events in their schools were impressed by the generosity of their peers. Fund-raising events included charity walks, bazaars, 'dress differently days', garage sales and concerts, as well as sports and music competitions. Children from Discovery Mind Kindergarten, for example, showed they can do just as well as the grown-ups when it comes to raising money. They topped every other school to raise the largest sum - HK$112,730 - from their charity walk. School director Cynthia Chow Ching-yee said everyone at the school was surprised it had raised more money than it did in the previous year, despite the weak economy. 'We hope by supporting OSC, we can connect our children with society,' said Ms Chow, who described OSC as 'mutually beneficial'. 'Organising the charity walk is not only about raising money for the poor, but also about giving our school a chance to build closer relationships with parents and children outside the school,' she said, adding the charity events built the students a 'bridge' to society. Everyone agrees OSC is much more than just a fund-raiser. It is also a chance for senior students to show off their leadership and creativity. Gabriel Lam Ka-yau from Diocesan Boys' School (DBS) and Manuel Man Wing-ho from St Mark's School were outstanding examples. This year, DBS raised the second largest amount, collecting HK$68,786. Form Six student Gabriel, who is chairman of the Christian Fellowship, was in charge of OSC events at the school. 'It was a great challenge in such a tough year, and I'm really happy and surprised we raised more funds than last year,' Gabriel said. St Mark's School came third in the money-raising race. Form Six student Manuel, and 16 of his schoolmates, organised five events for OSC, including sports competitions, a talent show and a famine camp. He also said he was surprised by the generosity of the students, who helped to raise HK$48,896 - several thousand dollars more than last year. Yesterday's closing ceremony did not put an end to OSC. Its spirit lives on and part of the money will go to a project in Sichuan later this year.