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Unique Moments in Ying Wa’s Fundraising History

By tradition, fundraising has never been a 'high-profile' activity in Ying Wa’s agenda. But heartwarming as well as clever stories of fundraising events are often told, repeatedly and gleefully, at old girls’ gatherings and reunions. In fact, shining examples of generosity and ingenious ways of giving of time, expertise and money punctuate our school’s annals.   Successful fundraising is often a case of the meeting of hearts and minds. When that happens, the result is formidable.

1927 saw an early episode of an all-out effort to raise $20,000 for the final phase of the then Robinson Road Block. After years of delay and frustration, every teacher and student decided to pitch in. On 1st October, the whole school, divided into 8 teams of 27, assembled and chanted the slogan:

With one heart, one virtue, one strength of purpose,
For God, for country and for Ying Wa!

  同心,同德,同志願,
  為神,為國,為英華!

"Ying Wa was everywhere and the whole street was Ying Wa," wrote the then headmistress Miss Hutchinson of that momentous day!1

Now, fast-forward four decades to 1965-66.

A nostalgic mood descended on the girls when demolition began on the beloved 1927 Block and they watched it being taken down brick by brick. Then the school came up with a brilliant idea of issuing donation booklets in the form of ‘bricks’ – $10 a brick and 10 bricks a booklet. Ten dollars may not be worth as much nowadays, but that idea helped lift the gloom and spurred one Form V class into action. Everybody chipped in and the ‘bricks’ sold like hotcakes to relatives and friends who were greatly touched by their commitment and enthusiasm. The girls also employed other strategies such as charging for a ‘movie gala’, selling homemade cookies and placing a tin box in the classroom to collect coins. 

Their efforts paid off and were eventually immortalised by an inscription ‘Class VA’ on the commemorative plaque in the Silcocks Hall when the new block opened. Only big donors qualify for this honour! And for this graduating class, such an honour was especially poignant as many of them well knew that 1966 was their final year in school and the spacious new facilities might not even be theirs to enjoy! Such a selfless gesture probably represents the best of the Ying Wa spirit.2

A more recent case when hearts and minds met is the facelift given in 2003 to the retaining wall opposite the gymnasium in the 1953 Low Block. Code-named ‘The Sky’, a metallic mural – created and designed (pro bono) by an old girl who is an artist by profession – was built onto the bare walls. The silvery surface of the mural now reflects light from the sky, thus transforming the small dark courtyard into one of the coziest corners in the ageing building. Who footed the bill? The class of '68 who paid for half of the $130,000 project from funds collected in memory of their English teacher.3

All in all, fundraising could be fun. According to one eager campaigner, it is a learning process and often yields surprising results. While the prosperous could be as generous as expected, those looking mild and meek and ordinary could also be bountiful beyond words! The lesson seems to suggest that we must be bold, reach out and catch all. Most people are kinder than we think they are.

In the last 110 years, countless numbers of successful and memorable donation drives adorn our school history. So long as there is Ying Wa, there will be needs for funds and more funds for worthwhile causes.  Fundraising is a never-ending story ...

 

1.  Ying Wa Girls' School, The Blessed Years 1900-2000, p. 79.
2.  An interview with a graduate of Form VA Class1966.
3.  'Ying Wa at the Crossroads: Yesterday, today and tomorrow', Ying Wa Girls' School 105th      Anniversary Founder's Day Celebration Night Booklet, 2005.


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