Operation Santa Claus

Carols, food stalls and families: charity event by Laguna City residents brings community together

Proceeds go to Operation Santa Claus, and with overwhelming response, private estate hopes to hold a bigger fundraiser next year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 1:20pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 December, 2017, 2:05pm

For years, a group of children living in Laguna City in Lam Tin have welcomed the festive season by singing carols door-to-door at the private estate, with donations for their efforts going to Operation Santa Claus, a joint charity drive by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

This year, the spirit of giving was taken one step further by other residents, with fundraising activities organised along with the carolling tradition.

Earlier this month, volunteers from the Laguna City Charity Committee set up food and drinks stalls with home-cooked dishes. There were also game booths, merchandise and a raffle at the event.

One day after the festivities, dozens of residents also took part in a charity walk called “Go the extra mile”, from Laguna City to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and back.

Gauri Venkitaraman, a committee member and full-time teacher, said all of them were professionals who wanted to give something back to the community. They would usually meet at 9pm or 10pm in early November to gather ideas for the charity event.

“We are a group of like-minded individuals who just want to do our bit to give something back to society, and what better platform than Operation Santa Claus,” she said.

“Operation Santa Claus is localised and what we really like is the fact that it caters to the smaller and lesser known charities in Hong Kong, and also to some individuals who need help.

“Nothing is deducted by way of overheads, so every single dollar collected is sent out to charities, and it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Venkitaraman noted this year was the busiest, and said she believed they could hit a record amount of donations as there was an overwhelming response. She expressed hope that the Laguna City Owners’ Committee, which has been very supportive of their events, would allow them to use the estate’s four indoor badminton courts next year as they were running out of space.

“Christmas embodies the spirit of giving, I told the owners’ committee, when we raised the request to use a bigger place for the event,” she said. “Let’s make it a culture of giving and it also serves as a very timely reminder as well as a good example for future generations – it reminds our kids that they are fortunate and there is a percentage of the population that is less fortunate.”

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Venkitaraman said she was also hopeful that other housing estates would do their part for society.

“I think this needs to start from the grass roots and if we as a community can make it happen in Laguna City, we hope it carries through and more housing estates can take this up,” she said.

Another member of the charity committee, Binnie Patcha, said the annual event was successful in uniting the estate’s residents, and they might have to kick off their meetings earlier in the year in future.

“We are definitely looking forward to making the event bigger next year and maybe have more events spread out over a period of time so everybody will have a chance to come.

“We had people coming to set up the stalls [even though they were flying off on that day]. They left at 3pm and by 5pm they were at the airport, but they were so enthusiastic to be part of it.”

Patcha added that the event worked as a platform to bring local and expatriate communities together, and also attracted people from outside the estate to join in the spirit of giving.