Operation Santa Claus

Children join Morgan Stanley choir for grand finale of record HK$3.5 million fundraising effort

Event marks 21st year of banking giant’s support for Operation Santa Claus

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 12:44pm

More than 100 Morgan Stanley senior executives and managers enjoyed a special moment as they donned Santa hats, reindeer headbands and red scarves and gathered on stage at the balcony of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre.

They were assembled for the 15th annual Morgan Stanley Directors’ Choir performance. The participants, who had been sponsored to sing by their colleagues, were drawn from 10 departments and split into five groups for a Christmas song contest.

Also on stage were 30 students from the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children.

The event marked the grand finale of the banking giant’s fundraising efforts for Operation Santa Claus, the yearly festive charity campaign held by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific Co-CEO Gokul Laroia announced that the firm had raised a record HK$3.5 million for its beneficiary, Po Leung Kuk Residential Child Care Service Unit.

After participants sang Deck the Halls together, the singing contest kicked off with the first group launching into Jingle Bell Rock.

Three contestants in Rudolf costumes ended the song with a rap dance as a grand finale.

Staff cheered the participants on as they belted out their chosen Christmas favourites. The winning team, decided by who received the loudest applause, would be awarded a trophy.

Shooting and scoring for charity at 20th annual Operation Santa Claus five-a-side soccer tournament

The group which sang Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer had a member with a reindeer headband and a glowing nose dancing and prancing below the stage.

“The dancing was a new addition – we may actually keep it going forward because I think it certainly adds a lot of flavour to the entire event and makes it more fun. But the beauty of this thing is it’s for a great cause, people enjoy doing it,” Laroia said.

“It’s very festive, people are happy. I think there’s a real desire to give back, so nobody’s been forced to do what they are doing, and everyone wants to do it of their own volition.

“I just sense that the atmosphere today was better than it has been in a while, or maybe that has something to do with the markets being better, but I like to think it has a lot to do with just people at this time of the year wanting to do good for everyone.”

The banking giant also held a charity bake auction earlier to raise funds. To mark Morgan Stanley’s 30th anniversary in Hong Kong, the firm’s employees baked 30 cakes, which were then bid for online.

Laroia said the No 1 cake went for more than HK$250,000, while the rest fetched between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000, including the cake that he himself helped to bake.

Over the past 21 years, Morgan Stanley has raised a total of HK$32 million, benefiting more than 170 charities through Operation Santa Claus.

Laroia said the firm would carry on supporting the charity campaign.

“It’s a tradition for sure, it’s a tradition that we not only want to continue, but one that we are really, really proud of,” he said. “Giving back is a core value. We think Operation Santa Claus is associated with some really good work. The well-being of children is really important to us, that’s why we picked charities over the last couple of years that had specifically to do with kids and how we can help them, and as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think we’ll ever stop.”

The event ended on a high note as everyone sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas.