Kick-start Operation Santa Claus
Christmas is a festive season full of fun, sharing and gift giving. But some of the season's best gifts are ones that can't be bought in shops.
You can help out the needy through Operation Santa Claus (OSC), a fundraising project organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. Now in its 18th year, the month-long campaign aims to raise funds for 12 local charities over the holiday season.
There are many exciting activities you can take part in. Soccer fans can join next Sunday's action-packed five-a-side football tournament - one of the campaign's highlights. The family event will take place from 9.30am to 4.30pm at Stanley Fort Sports Field, with up to 20 adult teams taking part.
Nigel Merritt, a veteran five-a-side player, said the game is faster than conventional soccer. It's played on a smaller pitch, where players need to carry out closer ball control.
Back by popular demand is the mini-soccer tournament for children (pictured). Four teams of fledgeling players from Hong Kong Football Club, Discovery Bay Dragons Football Club, Hong Kong Football Academy and Kellett School will compete in the mini-tournament which starts at 1pm.
Dwayne Smith will lead last year's winner, the Discovery Bay Dragons.
'We've explained to our children that this is a great way to help others who are less fortunate than us,' he said.
In between games, you can have your face painted, visit the bouncy castle, sink your teeth into barbecued food and tell Santa Claus your Christmas wish list. Entry is free, but visitors must carry their HKID card or passport because the venue is a military base.
If you like to run while having fun, you can take part in the Santa Hash. Organised by the Wanchai Hash House Harriers, the run will take place next Sunday starting at 2pm. The race begins at Tai Tam Reservoir Road Sitting Out Area and finishes at the playground in front of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. People of all ages are welcome to join.
Runners, who are encouraged to dress in festive costumes, will end the day with drinks and food at Chinatown in Jaffe Road, Wan Chai.
Registration fee is $250 (men), $180 (women), and free for children under 13. The cost includes the run, food, some beverages, and a Santa Hash rugby shirt. For more details, visit www.wanchaih3.com.
Meanwhile, carols and cookies can be sampled at Hysan Avenue in Causeway Bay. A stage outside Lee Gardens will host festive weekend performances, such as carol singing by students, from 2pm to 3pm starting from Saturday until December 25. There will also be a charity sale of Christmas cookies priced at $15. All proceeds will be donated to OSC.
If you want to be part of an attempt to break a world record, join the Santathon. Taking place on December 23, around the Lockhart Road area in Wan Chai, the event aims to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in Santa costumes. Santathon is open to people of all ages, but participants must wear a full Santa Claus outfit: red coat with white fur trim, matching hat, fake beard (unless you have a real white one), black belt and a bag of gifts.
If you don't have your own Santa outfit, one will be provided with a donation to OSC. For more information, call 2976 0876 or visit www.santathon.com.
Schools are also organising fundraising activities for OSC. Participating schools will be awarded two or three books, supplied by Pan Macmillan. The company will also donate 100 books to the Hans Andersen Club, which organises reading sessions for underprivileged children.
To check out more school charity events, see page 12, where a section featuring OSC school activities will run over the next four weeks.
For OSC updates, visit osc.scmp.com. If you want to get involved in the fundraising campaign, e-mail [email protected] or call 2250 3397.