‘We love to make the world a better place’: Hong Kong youngsters collect toys for sick and disadvantaged kids

Terminal illness of a family friend inspires sisters aged six and eight to launch the Little Philanthropist

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 9:44pm

A group of Hong Kong schoolchildren have collected more than 10,000 toys for charities supporting the city’s disadvantaged children and cancer patients.

Supporters of non-profit organisation Little Philanthropist went door to door this summer as they asked toy companies to donate.

The organisation was founded by eight-year-old Jeorge Petris and her six-year-old sister, Samantha. The Sai Kung Central Lee Siu Yam Memorial School pupils were inspired to help some of Hong Kong’s more vulnerable residents after volunteering for the China Coast Community, a charity that supports English-speaking elderly people in Hong Kong, with their mother Julie.

When a close family friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the girls felt instinctively keen to help cancer sufferers, as well as children less fortunate than themselves.

We are going to take toys to kids in hospital. We hope it will make them smile
Samantha Petris

Now the sisters, along with 13 other child ambassadors, are preparing to donate and sell the toys they’ve collected at an event at Hang Hau Space on September 24.

Jeorge said she hoped their efforts would provide valuable support for those in need.

“I wanted to start the Little Philanthropist because I wanted to help people, and a lot of people in this world have sickness and need help,” she said. “We love to make the world a better place.”

Her sister and charity co-founder, Samantha, said she was pleased their work was helping local charities such as the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Mother’s Choice, Crossroads and Evangel Children’s Home.

“I wanted to make the sick kids happy,” she said. “We are going to take toys to kids in hospital. We hope it will make them smile.”

Early bird tickets for the toy sale event cost HK$100 online, with each toy being sold for HK$30, regardless of its original price. The organisers said the retail price of toys donated to the event ranged between HK$100 and HK$3,000.

The Petris sisters’ mother, Julie, said the event had expanded “very quickly” since the Little Philanthropist was founded in June.

The 37-year-old American product developer for the toy industry, who also lives with her husband Michael and their four-year-old son William in Sai Kung, said she was “so proud” of her children.

“I am excited about how it will all come together,” she said. “They are really getting into it. It is becoming bigger than I expected.”

We try not to treat our children like kids. If you explain things to them [about issues in the world] then they do understand
Peilin Lee, Jumpstart Mandarin Centre

Peilin Lee, director of Jumpstart Mandarin Centre at Hang Hau Space, has been closely involved with the project and has also helped the Petris sisters become fluent in Putonghua.

She said she was impressed with how aware the girls had become about the need for charity.

“They are really down to earth,” she said. “I think they really care. It is amazing; they will focus on something and they will listen. We try not to treat our children like kids. If you explain things to them [about issues in the world] then they do understand.”

The event will also include a raffle, face-painting, fake tattooing and refreshments.

Organisers said any toys remaining at the end of the sale would be distributed to local orphanages in Hong Kong and Crossroads Foundation.

For more information, visit www.littlephilanthropist.net or to buy tickets visit the Facebook event.