A night to remember

A night to remember

Hong Kong students camped out overnight to learn about the disadvantaged and raise funds for Operation Santa Claus

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The experience camp taught students from St Mark's about the hardships faced by disadvantaged people in their daily lives.
The experience camp taught students from St Mark's about the hardships faced by disadvantaged people in their daily lives.
Photo: Tony Ma
Twenty-three years ago, the South China Morning Post and RTHK decided to collaborate and use their high profiles to help people in need. Together they established Operation Santa Claus (OSC), an annual campaign to raise funds for charities in Hong Kong.

Rather than dwindle, as so many good intentions do, the campaign has gone from strength to strength.

Yesterday, representatives from 26 schools gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel for the closing ceremony to celebrate their success in raising funds for OSC 2011. The event was hosted by Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, the wife of the Chief Executive, who revealed the final amount of donations.

This year, the 26 schools raised a total of HK$593,521. And among the long list of participants, Discovery Mind Kindergarten snatched the OSC 2011 top school fund-raiser award, raising an amazing HK$110,643.

And St Mark's School defended the most creative school title again, making it a three-year winning streak.

"Besides those who were on the committee, a lot of people put in effort to make this happen," said Jacky Lam Leong-kwan, the Senior House Captain and a Form Five student at St Mark's.

The school organised a series of activities for their OSC fund-raising campaign. On their last school day before Christmas, they held a basketball competition, soccer competition and a talent show to raise funds.

But the highlight of their activities was the experience camp. As many as 100 students bedded down in the school hall for a night last month. The camp challenged participants to commit to a role-play scenario for two days, with many playing the role of a disabled person or someone who lives in poverty. This gave them a taste of what disadvantaged people experience each day.

The school had held famine camps several times in the past few years. But the OSC fund-raiser was a completely new idea. "Putting the camp together was probably the hardest part because it was completely new to us," Jacky said. "The committee had to liaise with a lot of different school clubs, such as the Social Service Club, and that made it a lot harder. The catering was also a huge challenge."

During the camp, the committee faced some unexpected disappointments. "We spent so much time drafting the rundown and rules," Jacky said. "It was very upsetting to see a few people cheat, which defeated the whole purpose of coming to the camp."

To fix the problem, the committee stayed up late to discuss how to encourage people to play by the rules.

Although the credit for the St Mark's OSC campaign went mostly to the students, Jacky still wants to thank his teachers. "As much as we say these activities were organised by students, our two supervising teachers, Mr Lui and Mr Chan, deserve truckloads of credit as well," he said.

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