If your good deeds track record is looking a little thin, you had better reverse your bad influence on the world with a little bit of good, old-fashioned penance. Spread some good feeling by giving your help where it’s really needed - with local charities. Whether you’ve been a litterbug, harbored a secret loathing of your parents’ cat, or simply haven’t spent enough time with those you care about, rest assured that there is a way to atone for your crimes. Crimes Against Nature Is your conscience niggling at you as you power up your gas-guzzling 4X4 in the mornings, flicking your cigarette butt out of the window as you juggle a polystyrene cup filled with non-fair trade coffee? Repay your debt to Gaia by giving a little bit of your time to these charities. Clear the Air 2886-2655, www.cleartheair.org.hk What they do: Clear the Air are dedicated to improving the air quality of Hong Kong. What you can do for them: Bilingual people are needed for written translations so Clear the Air can spread their message to the community, and they are looking for people to beat the street on their "idling engine patrol." They are also looking for lobbyists for various environmental campaigns, so if you’re eloquent type, get your ass down there. The Conservancy Association 2728-6781, www.conservancy.org.hk What they do: The oldest environmental charity in Hong Kong, the Conservancy Association is dedicated to preserving Hong Kong’s cultural and environmental heritage. What you can do for them: There is a huge range of tasks for volunteers to do; the association needs your help at awareness campaigns and tree planting in the spring. Friends of the Earth 2528-5588, www.foe.org.hk What they do: Friends of the Earth improve the local environment through a number of campaigns and projects, and work to increase environmental awareness among the public. What you can do for them: Volunteers run demonstrations to promote recycling and awareness of environmental issues. You Keep Blaming The Dog If you’re not quite strong enough to resist when your grandmother force-feeds you shark’s fin soup and swallow’s nest, and you feel a twinge of guilt when you swat at cockroaches with your slipper, then you need to make it up to your furry, feathered or scaly friends by paying your dues at an animal charity. Hong Kong Dog Rescue www.hongkongdogrescue.com What they do: The charity rescues abandoned dogs and re-homes them. Dogs that don’t find a new place are cared for at the sanctuary. What you can do for them: It is staffed entirely by volunteers and the organization will always appreciate your help caring for the animals. Volunteers are very hands-on, and you will be doing anything from cleaning kennels and dogwalking to fundraising. Society of Abandoned Animals 2838-0633, www.saa.org.hk . What they do: The SAA runs a variety of programs to educate the public about animal welfare. They also re-home abandoned animals and provide workshops for training your pets. What you can do for them: You can help out by providing a foster home for abandoned animals, volunteer your skills as a designer, handyman or writer, or assist with clerical work. You keep thinking: “Those Darn Kids” “Kids have it easy these days. When I was at school, I had to walk home in the snow in bare feet, and chop logs with my teeth.” How many times have you spouted similar anti-youth phrases in the past few months? If you’ve been less than sympathetic to kids or teens, perhaps you should gain a little empathy by helping some young people. Hong Kong Children & Youth Services 2366-7271, www.cys.org.hk What they do: They provide young people and their families with support when they face personal difficulties. They also provide a clinical psychological service, after-school care and social workers for those in need of assistance. What you can do for them: There are many areas where you can contribute, such as one-to-one visits, organizing group activities or teaching English, practical skills and music. Mother’s Choice 2524-4310, www.motherschoice.com What they do: Mother’s Choice cares for babies and children awaiting permanent homes. It also advises pregnant girls and their families when facing a pregnancy crisis. What you can do for them: In addition to taking care of the children, Mother’s Choice are always looking for volunteers to teach English, Arts and Crafts and other activities to both children and pregnant women living at the home. Youth Outreach 2384-3531, www.youthoutreach.org.hk What they do: Youth Outreach scours the streets from 10pm-6am to find and counsel young people, with the intention of getting them home as soon as possible. They have a 24-hour hotline for young people in crises (9088-1023). They also run a range of activities and programs dedicated to improving the prospects for disadvantaged youth. What you can do for them: Sign up online if you want to offer your services in arranging activities or acting as a family or youth counselor. You left Grandma at the Airport So, you “forgot” to take your elderly parents to lunch and still haven’t returned that loan they gave you five years ago. Well, no better time than Christmas time to make up for all the grief you’ve piled onto your elders over the years. There are plenty of senior citizens in Hong Kong who could do with some support, so make their day and help out at these charities for the elderly and others in need. Crossroads International 2984-9309, www.crossroads.org.hk What they do: Crossroads sources unwanted clothes and other products and send them to impoverished people, both locally and internationally. What you can do for them: They desperately need people to sort through the donations and decide where they need to be sent. Senior Citizen Home Safety Association 2338-8312, www.schsa.org.hk . What they do: They provide a 24-hour emergency service and hotline number for elderly people living alone. What you can do for them: Volunteers are needed for fundraising and promoting the charity, answering calls from the elderly, admin work and making home visits. You’re a Slovenly Couch Potato How many times this year have you lied on your sofa watching some abysmal show simply because you couldn’t reach the remote, or taken a taxi ride when the meter didn’t tick over 15 dollars? Get off your lazy behind and put some of those unused calories into helping someone else for a change. Riding for the Disabled 2454-9961, www.rda.org.hk What they do: They provide mentally and physically handicapped people with horse riding lessons. What you can do for them: They are always looking for volunteers to help lead horses on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Experience with horses is not necessary. Hong Kong Sports Association for the Mentally Handicapped 2697-3731, www.hksam.org.hk What they do: The association creates sporting events for the mentally handicapped What you can do for them: Volunteers can referee, set up equipment and help with warming up and stretching exercises. International Coastal Cleanup Day 2868-5585, www.ecovisionasia.com What they do: Organized by Ecovision, the annual beach cleanup rids our beaches of debris and rubbish that has accumulated over the year What you can do for them: Put on a pair of sensible shoes and head down to help clear away the mess. Gifts that Keep Giving Spread a little altruism this Christmas www.presentaid.org Believe us, your friends do not need yet another crappy T-shirt bearing a “hilarious” slogan off eBay. Buy a gift for someone who really needs it by shopping online for someone from a developing country. Gifts range from the small (mosquito nets) to the grand (a school building). Improve the lives of others with a mere click of the mouse. www.joinred.com When you buy Red-branded products, which includes iPods, Motorola mobiles and Converse (all which come in a snazzy shade of crimson) a percentage of the profits will go toward providing Aids-afflicted people in Africa with retroviral medication. You’ll look awesome and be helping a good cause at the same time. www.the123book.com , 2540-4646 A book filled with coupons offering fabulous dining discounts all over town. Part of the proceeds from book sales go to a range of charitable organizations such as The Matilda Hospital, Operation Santa Claus and The Society of Aids Care, among others. Serious Charities for Serious People If you want to make difference to people who are desperately in need, you may want to offer your time to these charities. It’s not an easy job, but you’ll be making a big difference. Samaritans, 2896-0000, www.samaritans.org.hk Suicide prevention hotline for those in despair. Bradbury Hospice, 2636-0163, www.ha.org.hk/bbh Provides a comfortable and dignified resting place for the terminally ill. Hong Kong Alzheimer’s Disease Association, 2338-1120, www.hkada.org.hk A support network for people living with senile dementia and their caretakers. Society of Aids Care, 2559-2006, www.aidscare.com.hk Provides a range of services for people living with HIV. Aids Concern, 2898-4411, www.aidsconcern.org.hk Raises Aids awareness and provides support for people living with Aids and vulnerable groups. For more information on volunteering, contact www.ho-sum.org , an online meeting place, where you can volunteer for charity programs all over Hong Kong.