A gala dinner hosted by the South China Morning Post Homes for Hope programme raised more than HK$3 million last night to help victims of the Sichuan earthquake rebuild their houses. More than 300 community supporters, corporate sponsors and government officials, including Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, attended the event at the Island Shangri-La on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake. The dinner was a fund-raiser by the Homes for Hope project, a charity initiative by the Post to help two quake-hit villages - Qingquan and Shengnan new village - rebuild houses and infrastructure. To launch the event, Mr Tsang and SCMP Group chairman David Pang Ding-jung raised a sign carrying the Homes for Hope logo and nailed it to a picture of a house. In his speech, Dr Pang said the project had received tremendous support from the government, corporate sponsors and individuals since it was launched. 'I've been to Sichuan many times. I've seen looks of desperation on many faces. With your help, I think we can put big bright smiles on such faces - we have already begun building homes for them,' he said. 'This project will bring not only homes but also hope, to help these people build a bright future.' 'We will try to ensure all your contributions go to Homes for Hope and make sure all the houses built in Sichuan are quake-resistant.' A charity auction was held during the evening, which saw energetic bidding for five artworks donated by local and mainland artists and galleries. A grey pottery horse donated by Dragon Culture Charity Fund was sold for HK$500,000, the highest price of the five pieces. The other works were an oil painting called Love by Sichuan-born painter Guo Jin (HK$HK$400,000); a lithography, Memory No.1, donated by the Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery (HK$150,000); a hand-printed painting, Water, given by the Schoeni Art Gallery (HK$130,000); and a bronze sculpture called Old Boat by Sichuan artist He Liping (HK$130,000). Sotheby's director Ian McGinlay, head of client development for Asia, held the auction hammer. Kevin Ching, chief executive officer of Sotheby's, who helped contact the galleries and artists who joined the project, said: 'The Post is a reputable and reliable newspaper and the project is a meaningful one to support.' Guests enjoyed a series of shows conveying the cultural flavour of Sichuan, one of which brought in another hefty donation. As pop singer Coco Lee moved around the audience singing, William Fung, group managing director of consumer goods exporter Li & Fung Ltd, passed her a note offering a HK$500,000 donation if she would sing him a song. She then stood before him to sing, adding to the coffers. Award-winning performer Wai Shui-kwan amazed the audience with the 'face-changing' skills he learned in the province, while the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra performed a beautiful Sichuan folk song, The Love Song of Kangding. Zheng Danyi, a poet originally from Sichuan, recited the poem But tonight I should even refuse..., which he wrote for the occasion, expressing the pain and loneliness of Sichuan quake victims. The highlight of the night came when pop singer Coco Lee performed two touching songs for the guests.