Chinese New Year is fast approaching: a time for celebration, reuniting with friends and families, and ushering in a new year filled with luck and prosperity. It’s also a time to consider our wider communities and share blessings with those less fortunate than ourselves. After a tumultuous Year of the Tiger, the need to give back to the community is even greater, and what better way to encourage positivity than to foster it ourselves? Read on to discover four Hong Kong charities and how you can make a difference in the Year of the Rabbit.
It’s no secret that Hong Kong has both a food waste and hunger problem. Every day roughly 3,400 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfills, while more than a million residents living in poverty struggle to afford a meal. The situation gets even more polarised during the festive season, when there is a spike in food waste.
Founded in 2011 by the Bo Charity Foundation, Food Angel rescues surplus food from different sectors of the food industry and turns it into 15,000 meals each day. These are then distributed to underprivileged communities across Hong Kong. It’s a Hong Kong charity close to Cathay’s heart, which has worked with Food Angel since 2013 to redistribute unused food from inbound flights to help feed families in need.
This year, as preparations are underway in your kitchen at home, why not consider preparing meals for the wider community at one of Food Angel’s kitchens? There are volunteering opportunities to help prep, cook or distribute food depending on your time, skills and availability.
Roughly one in four children live below the poverty line in Hong Kong, a statistic that the Changing Young Lives Foundation is striving to rewrite. The foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of marginalised children through free educational and developmental programmes. These classes help to maximise future opportunities for the children and give them courage to realise their potential, while promoting a better future for society as a whole.
Donations go a long way. Changing Young Lives relies on funds to create extra-curriculum opportunities for children, help with talent development, and provide sensory and cognitive training for those with special education needs. Consider putting your lai see packets to good use, with a one-off, monthly or annual donation . Or if you’d prefer to donate your time, there are also opportunities to volunteer in person.
There is an ever-growing divide between Hong Kong’s rich and poor communities. More than one in five residents (or roughly 1.65 million people) were living in poverty in 2020 – a number that has only grown since the pandemic began. The Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) was formed in 1971 to promote equal treatment for all members of society – an important message to remember at this time of year.
SoCO aims to help underprivileged people by staging a series of social actions and training sessions to build self-confidence and protect their rights. Donating money is one of the ways you can help support this Hong Kong charity, but you can also do volunteer work as a teacher or leader in SoCO’s mentorship scheme to make a real difference to those living below the poverty line.
Of the 8% of Hong Kong’s population categorised as ‘ethnic minorities’, there is a disproportionately high poverty rate and low level of education, with many members alienated from the larger social folds of society. In the season of giving back to the community, consider joining Hong Kong Unison to help ethnic minority citizens fight back against racial discrimination and inequality.
The charity advocates for improvements to education policies regarding racial diversity and cultural sensitivity, plans career guidance programmes and provides scholarships for minority students. They also run outreach programmes for older generations to involve them in policymaking and orchestrating change within the community. Volunteers are hugely important to the organisation, and roles cover a range of activities from office administration to event assistance, so there’s sure to be something you can put your skills to good use for. Or you can donate to the charity directly on their website .
Did you know you can donate your Asia Miles to a huge range of charitable initiatives? With so little travelling happening at the moment, we’re all bound to have some miles saved up – now they can put to a good use and directed to a local Hong Kong charity. Your leftover miles could be turned into a 10kg bag of rice for an underprivileged family of four with Christian Action or provide a critically ill child with a computer via Make A Wish Hong Kong . Alternatively turn your miles into financial education for domestic helpers through Enrich HK , to help them escape debt.
Even the smallest act can create positive change for our community, and help to make sure the upcoming Year of the Rabbit is full of hope and joy.
This story was originally published in January 2022 and updated in January 2023.