Operation Santa Claus

Dyeing handkerchiefs with boiled coffee grounds – volunteers get creative at Hong Kong charity drive

Maxim’s restaurant chain organises workshop to prepare Christmas gifts for elderly as part of Operation Santa Claus

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 December, 2017, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 1:01pm

Ever wondered if coffee grounds can be reused instead of simply throwing them away after you have enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee? Volunteers at a Hong Kong restaurant chain’s charity drive have a unique answer for this – tie dyeing handkerchiefs.

The crisp, coffee-coloured pieces of cloths unfurl into special patterns when wrapped around marbles or sticks and dipped into a pot of boiling coffee grounds for 30 minutes.

Earlier this month, as part of Operation Santa Claus, an annual joint charity campaign organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, volunteers showcased their creative coffee-themed streak at Maxim’s.

The dried handkerchiefs will be used to wrap almond stick biscuits for 100 wheelchair-bound elderly at charity Rehabaid Society.

Volunteers also designed and wrote little Christmas cards to be presented with each gift, bearing festive greetings and well wishes of good health.

Participant Eddie Sae-Fong said beyond being a meaningful experience, the workshop also made him think of how to better make use of waste.

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“It’s fun because it’s my first time using coffee grounds for tie and dye,” he said. “I think it’s very meaningful that I can use my hands to make a little Christmas gift from my heart for the elderly in wheelchairs.

“I know they rarely go out of the centre, so I hope this present can bring them some joy and they can feel our sincerity.”

Another volunteer, Karina Leung Ka-ki, found the workshop very useful because staff got to learn how to be more environmentally friendly while doing something for the elderly.

“I hope by sending this gift the elderly can feel that the festive season is here,” Leung said. “I also hope they can feel our love and know that someone cares for them because some of them may feel lonely and neglected.”

In line with the celebratory mood and for those who are out and about, Maxim’s Group chief operating officer Raymond Tong Kwok-kong cited the mobile app, Friendly Restaurants Hong Kong, as a useful resource.

The app provides information on easily accessible restaurants in the city, and Maxim’s was the first food and beverage company to sponsor it in 2015-2016. It serves all users, but caters also for people with disabilities and the elderly, helping them locate shops with facilities or an environment that suits their needs.

“Facing a fast-ageing population, Hong Kong will see more and more wheelchair users. The food and beverage industry would be wise to address the need in advance and explore necessary enhancement measures to better serve this customer segment,” Tong said.

More than 200 restaurants under Maxim’s Group are included in the app.