Top Hong Kong charities to support this Christmas

For most of us, Christmas is a time of feasting and drinking, family and fun, shopping and social obligations, wrapping and later opening presents. The instinct of gifting is pure, but the pandemic has made the season colder than usual for thousands of Hong Kongers whose lives have been upended. Due the Covid-induced economic downturn, it won’t be such a merry time for nearly 17 percent of households who were rendered unemployed or underemployed in 2020 – that’s 1.1 million people who need some loving support.

Homeless in Hong Kong


An overnight headcount by seven NGOs in Hong Kong estimated that more than 1,500 people are sleeping on the streets, though the true figure is thought to be much higher. This is a 22 percent increase during the pandemic, and most will spend Christmas, the merriest time of the year, alone and without shelter. It’s not just adults who are affected – in 2018, Hong Kong had more than 235,000 children living in poverty, and today one child in four under the age of 16 is not getting three meals a day. 

If materialism is the Christmas devil, charity is the Christmas angel, and two years into the pandemic, giving back means more now than ever before. Thousands of people are doing their bit by pledging time or money to the 9,000-plus charitable organisations in the city working on worthy initiatives. To help you give generously, we’ve prepared a handy guide of charities that need your support.

“If materialism is the Christmas devil, charity is the Christmas angel, and two years into the pandemic, giving back now means more than ever”

Hope for Children

(Photo courtesy of Box of Hope)

Founded in 2008 by Nicole Woolhouse and Harriet Cleverly, Box of Hope has a simple mission at year’s end – collecting boxes with everyday essentials, toys and books for children who might not receive anything at Christmas. As charity director Sian Taylor says, “The aim is to give hope to a child who has never had a gift.” In the year prior to Covid, they distributed more than 32,500 boxes to underprivileged youngsters in Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Last year HK$1.1 million was raised, but with the poverty rate at a 12-year high in Hong Kong, demand has drastically increased, leaving thousands facing their first Christmas without any aid.

(Photo courtesy of Chi Heng Foundation)

Donating your dollars to the Chi Heng Foundation, founded in 1998 by Chung To, is another way to feel spiritually uplifted. It’s one of few charities working on providing long-term, holistic support to minors diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in Hong Kong and mainland China. Despite extraordinary medical strides in treatment since the ’80s, people living with the virus continue to face stigma and disdain on a daily basis. 

Chi Heng, which means “wisdom in action”, has worked tirelessly to change those misguided assumptions, empowering more than 29,000 poverty-stricken, HIV+ students through educational courses, vocational training, financial assistance and emotional counselling. The foundation funded orphans, vulnerable children and youth programs to the tune of HK$31 million in 2019, and with an administrative spending cap of 20 percent, you can be assured that your donation is not lost on middle men.

Food for Hungry

(Photo courtesy of Food Angel)

One in three elderly people in the city can’t afford to feed themselves, yet more than 1,000 tonnes of perfectly usable food goes to waste on a daily basis from hotels, restaurants, wet markets, food production and the like.

The Hong Kong government was slow to form a food waste strategy – publishing a blueprint to reduce wastage only in 2013 as the three local landfills approached capacity – thus the work of charities like Food Angel and Foodlink Foundation, which redistribute surplus food, becomes vital. Plugging the holes in the food chain, they supply more than three million meal boxes annually to underprivileged communities.

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(Photo courtesy of Foodlink)

Founded in 2011 by the Bo Charity Foundation, Food Angel rescues more than 35 tonnes of food each week and supplies some 15,000 fresh nutritious meals, while distributing another 9,000 meal boxes per day across the SAR. The foundation raised HK$71.5 million in the fiscal year ending in March 2020 and served nearly two million meals. In tough times like today, the demand is even higher, and December and January are usually the busiest months. Working with more than 200 charity partners and operating through seven community centres, Food Angel is staffed predominantly by volunteers and welcomes anyone able to help serve in their kitchens.

Kind Kitchen

Homelessness is serious issue and becomes even more dire as temperatures drop. Just HK$6,000 can keep one homeless person in a shelter for a month. That’s how easy it is to tackle the problem, that is if we collectively decided to make a difference. Founded by long-time resident of Hong Kong, Jeff Rotmeyer in 2017, local charity ImpactHK, dedicated to providing hot meals and shelter to the homeless as well as those who have lost their jobs in pandemic-induced lay-offs, is striving hard to help the needy. Working through a range of services to help people settle in safe spaces, whilst restoring their health and wellbeing, ImpactHK strives to aid around 425 people each week with basic life essentials.

(Photo courtesy of Rosewood Hong Kong)

Acutely aware of the challenges this noble endeavour, Rosewood Hong Kong has partnered with ImpactHK to provide meals and shelter to the homeless as well as find solutions to aid an independent livelihood. Through its year-long multi-tiered approach, the hotel will give back by sponsoring a full-time Kind Kitchen (ImpactHK’s new kitchen in Tai Kok Tsui) staff trainee for an entire year. They also aim to lend culinary expertise in providing cooking workshops every two months for the food and beverage staff of Kind Kitchen. That’s not all, in the spirit of giving, they will be donating HK$1 per guest dining at any of their seven packed-restaurants from 20 to 31 December. In fact, even if you purchase Christmas hampers from the hotel, 5% of the proceeds go directly to the charitable organization. From January 2022, Rosewood will also deliver a total of 3,600 freshly cooked meal boxes for an entire year on a bi-weekly basis, the meals will be prepared and packaged by the highest standards at the hotel’s kitchen. Call it the next level hospitality but in trying times that’s the need of the hour. 

Mind Matters

At any point of time, one in seven Hong Kongers suffers from a mental health issue. While we have journeyed far in tackling the stigma attached to mental illness and its lack of funding, a long road remains to be travelled. According to the mental health charity Mind Hong Kong, even in 2021, more than 75 percent of sufferers do not seek professional help.

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(Photo courtesy of KELY Support Group)

Stress levels of young people have been severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Student suicide is at an eight-year high in the city, with at least 23 youngsters tragically killing themselves in the 2019-20 school year. Given this scenario, KELY Support Group plays a crucial role, providing mental health support both in schools and the lives of young people – just as it has done for the past three decades. Founded in 1991 by Samantha Martin, a young woman overcoming drug addiction, KELY is an acronym for ‘Kids Everywhere Like You’. It raised more than HK$7 million last year, using donations to counsel youths aged from 14 to 24, focusing on drug and alcohol awareness, mental health and wellbeing, and positive youth development.

“Hong Kong certainly has no dearth of billionaires and philanthropists, and our ordinary citizens have a charitable heart, too”

Hong Kong certainly has no dearth of billionaires and philanthropists, and our ordinary citizens have a charitable heart, too. The SAR once ranked highly at 20th in the World Giving Index, though in terms of donations it slipped back to 43rd out of the 114 countries surveyed in 2021. The number of local people volunteering this year to support charitable endeavours was shown to be wanting though, so let’s rally in the holiday spirit this month and make a difference. Knowing that your gift – whether it’s through cash or time – will lessen some suffering is a wonderful feeling to have.

(Text: Nikita Mishra)

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