December 22nd 2014 by Sophie Pettit
As the year winds down and we enter the Christmas season, the warm sentiment of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all’ fills our thoughts and we remember the many millions across the globe who do not enjoy peace and prosperity. During this time we may choose to donate to charities or volunteer to help the less fortunate within our own community as we embrace the spirit of generosity and give back to those who need it most.
But the reality is, these people face hardship every day of the year, not just at Christmas, therefore surely we should not limit our acts of kindness to the festive season. They say charity begins at home, so we turn away from the elaborate festive displays and endless hoards of Christmas shoppers to take a look at what local Hong Kong companies are doing to nurture and support the less fortunate in our community, not just at Christmas time, but all year round.
You may know them best for setting you up with Wi-Fi in your office or dozens of TV channels to flip through at home, but take a closer look behind the scenes of Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), and you’ll see there is much more than meets the eye. Aside from providing premier telecommunications services to over 1.4 million subscribers across Hong Kong, the organisation is committed to benefiting all ages of the local community by integrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into all aspects of daily practice to bring about long-term positive and sustainable changes throughout the seasons. The concept of helping others is so engrained in their company culture that it is one of their core values, ‘To make our Hong Kong a better place to live’.
One way it does this is through its Knowledge Volunteers for Community Programme, whereby 22 top executives and middle management offer their time and expertise to help members of the community develop and sustain six social enterprises and projects. These include MY Concept, which aims at helping around 30 marginalised teenagers to pursue their performance dreams, Leave Love, which offers service for terminal people, 3H Handicraft, which creates employment for women from new immigrant families, and its Neighbor Plus Workshop, which offers employment to garment workers from low-income families. Aside from supporting these social enterprises, HKBN also organises a wide array of CSR activities, including a three-year youth mentorship programme offering long-term, one-on-one support to youngsters from underprivileged families, spending time with the elderly (pictured), and day tours for children from low-income families. Their work touches the lives of all generations, empowering them to live a better life through a network of guidance and support.
These outstanding efforts have not gone unnoticed, earning the company the Bronze Award of the Hong Kong Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award – Enterprise Category this year for the second time in a row. Ivy Lau, Director -Talent Engagement of HKBN told Localiiz, “Our company’s core purpose is to make Hong Kong a better place to live. We hope our first move in knowledge volunteering can be a role model, and inspire more companies to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities likewise.”
Bringing Families Closer Together
One company that is certainly fulfilling its responsibilities all year round is Wellcome. Like many local businesses, the supermarket chain regards serving others as a valuable experience, which is why it is committed to its various Community Care programmes throughout the seasons. From sponsoring and donating towards the annual ‘Beat the Banana!’ Charity Run (pictured), organised by World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong, to hosting family workshops and events with the Hong Kong Single Parents Association and Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association to strengthen the bonds between parents and their children, the company strives to enhance the lives of families in Hong Kong.
But Wellcome hasn’t forgotten Christmas either. For the fourth year running, the company is taking part in Operation Santa Claus, a charity drive organised by the South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong, which supports charitable projects in the area of Children and Youth, Elderly, Medical, Physical and Mental Disabilities, Environment, and Social Enterprises.
Aside from donating HK$150,000 to the initiative this year, Wellcome recently challenged 15 of its employees to put their creative skills to the test by knitting warm scarves for elderly people with dementia to keep them warm during the colder winter months. Committed to the cause, the company even organised two sessions on how to knit for the young volunteers who played Santa and presented their gifts to the elderly at a day care centre in Kwun Tong, run by local charity Yan Oi Tong. This particular initiative not only allowed generations young and old to interact, it also helped to raise awareness of dementia within the local community.
Providing Shelter from the Storm
Charity comes in many forms, but perhaps the most vital of these is disaster relief, and when super typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, local family-run business AGS Movers extended a helping hand beyond Hong Kong by providing shelter from the storm when it was most needed. The company was quick to step in and take part in the Boat That Rocks charity project, which aimed at delivering donations and relief goods (pictured) to the victims in their time of need. They sponsored two trucks and 30 boxes to facilitate donation collections for the Philippines and despite the restricted traffic in Central and the absence of cranes and piers, AGS staff still managed to load the boat efficiently and successfully, providing much-needed relief to our friends in the Philippines.
But it’s not only in times of disaster that AGS has been known to step in and help out. It not only prides itself on offering a personalised moving and logistics service for both corporates and individuals, but also to the most impactful charity events in Hong Kong. Aside from using only environmentally-friendly trucks in its daily operations, the company helped to move and set up Picnic in the Park, Hong Kong’s largest live music and dance festival in Discovery Bay, in November this year. The company also provided and set up canopy tents for much-needed shade for the entertainment and food booths to accomodate over 10,000 people who came to support local bands, restaurants, and charities in spite of the rain. The French International School Christmas Market, German Swiss International School Christmas Bazaar, and Sandy Bay Mini Rugby Festival are among some of the other events dotted throughout the year to which the company has extended its services.
Giving Water of Life
Another local company that is fulfilling its CSR in its own unique way is Life Solutions, which specialises in the filtration and purification of water throughout Hong Kong, Macau, parts of Southern China, and Shanghai. Recognising that water is an environmentally and ethically contentious issue around the world, giving and taking life with equal ease, the company is committed to educating and informing the community of its importance, impact, and implications. Believing that water is a resource that should be shared, the business donates systems to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund and the Children’s Cancer Foundation, to ensure that their patients have access to clean and healthy water.
It also donates water dispensers to community events, including Discovery College’s Family Fun Day and, for the third year running, the annual Jax Coco Shek O Challenge, organised by Open Water Asia. This event sees around 500 people take part in running, paddling, and swimming across 2.2km of open water from Big Wave Bay to Shek O Back Beach. The company kept swimmers and spectators hydrated by supplying fresh water supplies (pictured) through a 6-filters cycle using special technology to filter bacteria and heavy metals and irons, whilst at the same time reducing wastage by recommending the participants to bring their own bottles.
So it is safe to say that whilst the spirit of giving is perhaps most prominent at this festive time of year, it is still very much alive throughout the seasons, thanks to the efforts of our local businesses who understand that charity is for life, not just for Christmas.