Operation Santa Claus

Table tennis outing unites Hong Kong youth and bank volunteers for a good cause

Marginalised children aged nine to 16 warmly receive visit at charity centre

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 9:05pm

Volunteers from a Hong Kong financial services company received a warm welcome as they visited a local charity serving marginalised youth. They came to play table tennis with children aged between nine and 16 who love the sport.

A tournament in Shek Kip Mei was arranged for the ping-pong enthusiasts, with the children from Changing Young Lives Foundation divided into three teams, each led by volunteers from Hang Seng Bank.

After hesitant starts, the young players steadily gained confidence, encouraged by their new adult teammates. Fun and cheers followed as the players faced off in singles and doubles matches.

During one encounter, a youngster became emotional after losing several points; he momentarily quit the table and left his paddle on the ground. But he returned to action after being comforted by his team leader, Bosco Tsang Tak-wui, who has been doing volunteer work at the bank for years.

The children can feel there’s someone who cares for them and will give them support
Bosco Tsang, volunteer

“I know how he feels, so I tried to comfort him,” he said, recalling past experience. “It’s always nice to play with them because when I share a bit of my time, the children can feel there’s someone who cares for them and will give them support.”

Another volunteer, Kenneth Cheung King-lun, described the outing as deeply enjoyable.

“Coming here gives me the opportunity to share some table tennis insights and techniques with the children, and playing with them can build up their confidence,” Cheung said.

Volunteer Carmen Ip Kar-man, who rushed over to the centre for the event after finishing work, was impressed by the standard of table tennis exhibited by the youngsters, and expressed delight at their enthusiasm.

One player, 16-year-old Cheung Tsz-hin, said he hoped the volunteers could return more often to play with them.

“I want to thank them for coming and playing with us,” he said. “They are so skilful. I hope they can come again so I can have someone to practise table tennis with.”

The winning team was awarded medals, while everyone who took part received a certificate. The volunteers then stayed behind to continue playing with the children.

Hang Seng Bank head of corporate responsibility, Alison Ho Cheuk-wai, said the company would not only donate to Operation Santa Claus – an annual fundraiser jointly held by the South China Morning Post and RTHK – but send volunteers to visit those benefiting from its efforts.

“The festive season is the best time to encourage our staff to give back,” she said. “This year, we are very excited to come here because we have a chance to play table tennis with the children and our colleagues are genuinely showing and giving their love to the children.”

Ho noted that bank staff were entitled to two days of volunteer leave as compensation for their service to the community.