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)

Also Read: Christmas dining on your mind? Top restaurants to book a feast!

The Meaning of Christmas

Trapped in London for Christmas, only a miracle could bring good cheer to a desperate Shanghai banker

He hadn’t guessed it would be the little girl who would bring a tear to his eye. Especially not when he sent that first email… “Don, I guess output’s going to fall off a cliff with this Christmas thing coming up. Can’t see why you guys have to put down tools for two weeks just to stuff yourselves with your bland British cooking…”

Don’s reply had been brief, almost to the point of discourtesy: “That’s really not what Christmas is all about.”


He took this as a sign that yes, indeed, the London office would go into hibernation as of Christmas Eve, before returning to the fray early in the New Year, fatter, floridder and full of commitments to a ‘dry’ January. For Zhou Li Jie, a Shanghai-born banker seconded to his firm’s UK subsidiary, it would be the first time he had seen the run-up to this seasonal shutdown for himself.

Thankfully, he would only be marooned in the UK for the preamble. Tacitly acknowledging his presence would be a little superfluous come 24 December, he was booked on a direct flight to Shanghai that day. With a bit of luck, he would be back in his Jing’an apartment by 10.30am the next day, with the place guaranteed to be free of artificial trees and glowering Santas.

What he hadn’t gathered from 9,000km away was that, in the UK, the run-up to Christmas begins around October. By early November, tinkly Winter Wonderland lift music and the sight of sprigs of holly on every unguarded flat surface had already driven him to distraction.

With just three days to go, he’d sent his second email – “Don, I’m just confirming that I am off on the 24 Dec and then back here 5 Jan. I trust that will be enough time for you to remember the Baby Jesus and sing some old songs about shepherds…”

Don’s reply was as brief as it was familiar: “That’s really not what Christmas is all about…”

Deeming it all but impossible to satisfyingly email a ‘harrumph’ in response, Zhou let it pass. His mood, after all, was improving with every day he got closer to that 11-hour non-stop flight, which would ferry him away to a land where comedy reindeers didn’t fill every shop window and where he wasn’t obliged to kiss a drunk girl from Customer Services just because she’d brought some mistletoe to the office Christmas party.

With less than 48 hours till take-off, he’d emailed Don again: “Could you let me have the list of holiday cover personnel – assuming you’ve managed to find five or six members of staff willing to forsake listening to the jolly old Queen’s Christmas message in order to keep the wheels of international finance turning…”

As ever with Don, the reply was prompt, with a list attached of those for whom brownie points and the time-and-a-half tariff were way more appealing than an inevitably-fraught day with intoxicated in-laws. His postscript, though, was the now-familiar: “That’s really not what Christmas is all about.”

As the countdown became hours rather than days, Zhou passed the time with a final email: “Don, I’m just attaching my home contact details should anything urgent come up, though I doubt anything short of the collapse of the world banking system would drag you away from overindulging your kids with upgraded iPads and copies of Grand Theft Auto High-Speed Motorway Death Pile-Up VI…”

He hardly even registered the now seemingly-obligatory response: “That’s really not what Christmas is all about….”

With four hours to go, things were not going well. Ironically, this was down to a high-speed motorway pile-up just prior to Junction Two of the M4, the motorway linking central London to Heathrow Airport. While it would have been little comfort to Zhou, it’s believed that no deaths or Grand Thefts were directly attributable to the incident. With the road ahead seemingly set to be sealed off for several hours to come and reversing a clear impossibility, it was left to Zhou’s taxi driver to sum up the situation: “Looks like you’re stuffed, mate…”


With the flight missed and no re-booking possible until well after Christmas, Zhou reflected that he was indeed stuffed. With his London hotel room vacated, he was left with little choice but to slink back into the office. Seriously overladen with luggage, his attempts to negotiate his way through the revolving door of the bank’s largely-abandoned London hub were proving somewhat futile until a familiar figure appeared and offered a helping hand. “M4?” asked Don, shaking his head and clearly already knowing the answer. “M4,” Zhou disconsolately confirmed nevertheless. “I hate to say it, but I pretty much reckon you’re stuck with us and, as to getting a decent hotel over the Christmas period…” Don grimaced, confirming a suspicion that had struck Zhou during the long wait for the congestion to clear. “You know,” said Don, “I really think that it’s best that you come with me…”

And that, more or less, was the how and the why that led Zhou to be seated in Don’s living room on Christmas morning, clutching a glass of eggnog and feeling very far from home. Don’s children, however, seemed unfazed by his presence, regarding him, perhaps, as one of the more unusual things Santa had stashed below the family tree on his global gift-giving spree.

Now, though, looking up from the marathon “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” session that had seen her gaily shred the packaging of at least a dozen carefully wrapped gifts, Don’s daughter – Alana – was gazing at him quizzically. “Daddy says you’re far from home and won’t see your family or get any presents this Christmas,” she said, her eye contact with Zhou remaining unflinching throughout. Zhou nodded in as nonchalant a way as he could muster.

“That’s sad,” said Alana, her tone clearly implying that this was the definitive verdict on Zhou’s predicament. “So, I got you this,” she said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a small, hastily-wrapped object. Zhou took the parcel and carefully unwrapped it under the little girl’s unerring gaze. “It’s a doll,” said Zhou, as the last layer of the gift-wrap finally gave way.

“I know,” said Alana, “Her name’s Suzy and she used to be my friend, but now I think she should be your friend.” The tear had hardly started to form before he felt an arm come around his shoulder. “Now that,” said Don, “is really what Christmas is all about.” “Don,” said Zhou, with the words proving surprisingly hard to form, “you know if you and your family were to ever get stuck in China over the Spring Festival, I’d be honoured if you would spend that time with me and my family…” Don beamed. “You know,” he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen real soon. More eggnog, anyone?”

Written by Tony Murray