Operation Santa Claus extends a helping hand to the most vulnerable
To an outsider Hong Kong would seem to have found the ultimate answer to the universal need for charity in societies rich and poor - the Jockey Club's monopoly over all gambling that generates billions each year for worthy causes on top of a revenue windfall for the government, without protest from punters who fund it all.
The reality is that there is always a reason for giving and sacrifice; there is always someone whose needs dwarf our own. And there is no better place than Hong Kong for its vibrant culture of charity that nourishes the civic spirit with a sense of compassion for the less fortunate and deserving and, especially, helps people to help themselves.
That is why Operation Santa Claus, relaunched last week ahead of the festive season, is still going strong in its 28th year. Organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK in 1988, the campaign had its origins in the heyday of radio during the 1960s, when government presenters performed fundraising publicity stunts for charities. It has come a long way since then to establish itself as the city's biggest end-of-year fundraising drive, raising HK$20 million last year to make a total of HK$232 million which has benefitted 214 different projects.
The campaign's beneficiaries over the years are a roll call of groups that easily slip through or strain the social welfare safety net. Last year, for example, it supported services for underprivileged children, the mentally disabled, the elderly and migrant workers. This year it is supporting five charities for the elderly, eight organisations that help young people and five that help the disabled in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
As the less well off among us contemplate a widening income gap and would-be homebuyers face unaffordable property prices, these causes should remind us that there is always someone worse off than ourselves, and that a society is ultimately judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The Post is proud to be associated with Operation Santa Claus.