Christmas comes early for children in need as Hong Kong’s SoCO hands out presents, but NGO says it’s struggling to hit year’s fundraising target

Christmas came early for 12-year-old Andy Wong after the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) gave him a remote-control car that his family could not afford to buy.

The youngster – who wants to be a car designer – said on Monday he was delighted to get the present from the NGO.

“I felt happy and content when I received the remote-control car,” Andy added.

He was one of the 3,360 underprivileged children who sent their Christmas wish to the SoCO, which has distributed more than 40,000 festive gifts over the past 20 years.

“Those underprivileged children need to adjust themselves for society,” SoCO deputy director Sze Lai-shan said.


“They can talk about Christmas and gifts with their friends like any other children. This activity is not only to provide the basic needs for their family, but also help to build up their confidence.”

But the organisation has signalled they are HK$300,000 (US$38,470) short of their HK$750,000 fundraising target to meet their goals this year.

Sze said many companies were still struggling in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and had tightened their belts.

“Several companies that used to provide annual funding have reduced their contributions or cut their support,” she explained. “Raising funds has become increasingly difficult for us.”

Huang Aiting, a Form Four pupil, who wore the shoes she was given at last Christmas’s SoCO event, said she wanted book vouchers this time.


“I plan to use these vouchers to purchase some literary books,” she said. “I haven’t decided on a specific author yet, but I’m feeling excited.”

Another primary pupil, 10-year-old Zilina Lee was given a pair of table tennis bats.

“Now I can finally play table tennis with my friends at school,” said Lee as she held her prized presents close.

But Lee also revealed another Christmas wish.

“My only dream now is to have a meal with my parents because I rarely get to see them both at the same time.”

She said her father worked in construction and put in long hours, so she rarely saw him and sometimes had to fend for herself when both her parents were out.

Sze said Census and Statistics Department figures from 2017 showed there were about 250,000 underprivileged children in Hong Kong.

“We don’t have the most recent figures, but I am certain that the number has increased significantly since 2017,” Sze said.

“The primary issue is that more people are struggling to secure full-time employment to earn a living, not to mention inflation and the debt they accumulated during the pandemic.”

SoCO said that more than 50,000 impoverished children lived in substandard conditions, including cage homes and subdivided flats.

The NGO added that many of the children resorted to scavenging for recyclables after school to help their families make ends meet.