Operation Santa Claus

Lessons in compassion as preschoolers walk tall for charity

Children at Hong Kong kindergarten don their festive favourites in 4km walk for those not so fortunate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 10:52am

Children from Discovery Bay schools led a 4km charity trek to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves.

Clad in commemorative red T-shirts and Santa hats, the pupils from Discovery Mind schools were among 500 participants in the walk from the preschool in Peninsula Village to Siena Park.

Over the years the schools have raised more than HK$1.3 million for Operation Santa Claus (OSC), the annual charity campaign organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. The sponsored walk usually generates about HK$100,000 in donations.

This was the 11th year for ­Discovery Mind to hold the event, and for the past eight years it has won the Top School Fundraiser Award.

Rochelle Ferreira took her two daughters, five-year-old Chanel and three-year-old Selela, on the walk for the first time.

“It was a very nice event,” she said. “It gives you a different ­perspective on things. It was good to help them see that. At Christmas time particularly, I always tell them they are so lucky to have what they have, and that there are so many children who do not have much.”

Jane Wilson, head of the international section at Discovery Mind, said the walk has become a popular school tradition.

“It was a such an amazing ­atmosphere the first time we held it, that we wanted to do it every year,” she said.

Wilson said the event was ­important because it showed the ­children they were generally very lucky compared to others their age in Hong Kong.

“It teaches the children the principles of sharing and giving,” she said. “It also gives them an ­understanding that there are a lot of children who are not as fortunate as they are.”

Wilson added that she was grateful for the support of parents, who enabled the event to be such a success.

“Discovery Mind parents are very generous when it comes to donations,” she said.

OSC last year raised a record-breaking HK$21.3 million for a ­variety of good local causes. This year organisers have set a minimum target of HK$17 million for a raft of new projects, many of which support the city’s youth.

One of this year’s new beneficiaries, the Outward Bound Trust of Hong Kong, has launched an ­expedition programme for young disabled people.

Participants will be taken on a five-day sea kayak journey through the more challenging side of Hong Kong. Before this, they will attend four days of confidence-building workshops.

Another new beneficiary, youth charity the FHL Adventure Education Centre, will receive HK$850,000 from OSC for its adventure-based English language course targeted at underprivileged children. A Step Towards Your New Life aims to tutor 100 young adults and 2,000 primary school ­children.