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Serve-a-thon volunteers work with Ark Eden and Plastic Free Seas

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Serve-a-thon, which ran this year from May 4 to 12, was launched in 2017 to give HongKongers the opportunity to take part in meaningful and constructive volunteering work. Since then Serve-a-thon volunteers– corporates, schools and, civic organisations – have given over 8,000 hours to support more than 30,000 people in need during nine annual days of service. This year, the organisers HandsOn Hong Kong lined up 150 volunteer activities to support over 50 local non-profits, including Ark Eden in Mui Wo.

“We took a group of 38 enthusiastic and very active Hands-On volunteers to plant trees on beautiful land nestled in the hills above Mui Wo,” says Ark Eden’s Phoebe Farley. “Unfortunately, our valley has been ravaged for years by forest fires and soil erosion, which we have been fighting against in order to restore the hills to their former green glory.”

In a single day – May 11 – the Serve-a-thon volunteers were able to plant 77 trees. “We are so grateful for their contribution to present Lantau as a natural environmental wonder as we fight to preserve its rich biodiversity,” says Phoebe.

Plastic Free Seas was also involved in this year’s serve-a-thon, with volunteers participating in community beach cleanups at Sam Pak Wan, Nim Shue Wan and Cheung Sha Lan on May 12. “The entire group … of about 34 volunteers collected 181kg of rubbish in 31 bags total from all three beaches, which shows not only how badly these beaches can get polluted, but also how great of an effort these volunteers made” notes Plastic Free Seas Director Dana Winograd. “Of those volunteers, 16 were from HandsOn Hong Kong.”

Serve-a-thon volunteers engage in direct service in support of causes such as feeding the poor and homeless, caring for the elderly and children from low-income families, empowering people with disabilities, and supporting animal welfare and environmental conservation.

“Hong Kong’s vibrant NGO sector works every day to support those in greatest need but they can’t do it alone,” says Serve-a-thon spokesperson Amy Shea. “Many depend on the support of volunteers to make their programmes possible.”

Pointing to the way volunteering benefits everyone involved, Amy adds: “Recent findings from a city-wide study show that 83% of volunteers believe that community service has a positive effect on their mental health and self-esteem.”

To find out more with an eye to volunteering next year, visit www.serveathonhk.org.hk.

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