Year 12 is always a super busy time of homework and exam prep, but students Jenny Ko and Bonnie Lee have set their focus on a different priority this month.
The girls are taking part in the annual collection drive Sharing for a Cause (SFAC). The campaign, run by local charity Kids4Kids, collects goods from those who have a lot, and donates to those who have nothing.
“Everything we do at school – like getting good grades – of course it’s important, but I don’t feel like I’m making an impact on the people around us. Being involved with SFAC made me realise I can do more for the community and help others in need,” says Bonnie.
“We’re acting as a bridge, helping people donate goods, and connecting people around us to underprivileged children and families,” adds Jenny.
Both students were on SFAC’s core team last year and became co-leaders this year. With their theme of “Educational Tools for School”, they are collecting computer accessories and stationery to redistribute to needy children and schools around Hong Kong.
The SFAC has been collecting household items for two years, but Jenny, who studies at German Swiss International School, said they wanted to do something different this year. They felt that everyone already knows that people living in poverty need clothes and food, but that the importance of education for children has been neglected.
“Putting educational items as the theme would be the most appropriate,” says Bonnie, who is in her final year at Chinese International School. “We all take stationary and computers for granted, but even in this city, there are people who actually need these resources,” she added.
At the Power by Youth forum, another campaign run by Kids4Kids, Jenny learned that a lot of schools don’t have printers or computers. “I was shocked to find that out, because we have a tonne of laptops just provided to us,” she recalls.
“We are obviously privileged members of the community … so we have the strength and the ability to actually help others,” says Bonnie.
This includes helping the many people who have no clue of what to do with old electronics, said the duo. The SFAC team has also talked to major companies, including IBM, which update their appliances and computers quite often.
Last year Jenny’s responsibilities included sorting out the items at the end of the collection drive before sending them to be donated. She said it was sweaty, tiring work in a warehouse in summer, but “it’s quite satisfying to see all the items laid in front of you when you know there are many families you’ll be able to help.”
As co-leaders this year, the girls have more responsibilities, from arranging meetings with major companies and making posters and infographics, to organising the team (around 10 students) and scheduling the workload.
“There has been slightly more pressure,” Jenny says. “You have to take the initiative to complete tasks if no one has the skill set to do it.” The experience has taught her many new skills, including design.
Bonnie says the biggest lesson they’ve learned organising this year’s campaign is taking rejections. When they approach major companies for partnership, sometimes they get no for an answer and sometimes their calls and emails are ignored.
“In school, you are definitely getting responses from teachers, but in the real world, not everyone’s going to do what you want. You actually have to try and reach out,” she said.
Jenny says it’s meaningful for people to donate what they don’t need anymore to help educate underprivileged children. “It’s good knowing that something that’s old and slow can be super important to others,” she says.
“Maybe they [the donors] can be inspired to put in more time and effort to help people in need,” adds Bonnie.
Jenny and Bonnie hope to collect 30,000 items at citywide collection points, which include schools, office buildings, and Pacific Coffee stores. Find the one closest to you and check out the list of what they need at kids4kids.org.hk/en/sharing-for-a-cause-2016.
Sharing for a Cause runs until May 31.