Giving back to society during Giving Week

Try your hand at activities such as knitting and floral arrangement for a cause during Giving Week

Pick up parkour. Try your hand at floral arrangement. Learn to knit a beanie.

These are some of the activities that Singaporeans can do during Giving Week, a national giving movement which is into its third year and will be held from Tuesday to Dec 5.

Organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Giving Weekencourages everyone across Singapore - corporates, non-profit organisations and individuals - to come together and give back to society, through a host of activities and initiatives.

Activities cover a range of categories including the arts, education, lifestyle and dining.

Whichever activity you pick, you will be contributing to a worthy cause. For instance, proceeds from the parkour workshops will go to the Yellow Ribbon Project, which helps ex-convicts and their families, while the finished products of the floral arrangement classes will be gifted to caregivers.

For a full list of activities, go to givingweek.sg. The Sunday Times rounds up three initiatives.


Help sort out bras for the needy in the Philippines

Home-grown shapewear brand D'Elegance is looking for help for its initiative to send close to 10,000 new and pre-loved bras to women in the Philippines next month.

Mr Peh Zhengyang, 29, director of marketing and business development for the the family-owned business, says this is a project that began in June last year, when he came to know of the Uplift Project, a registered charity in Australia that was started in 2005.

Its aim is to collect new or second-hand bras and send them to women in disadvantaged communities, for whom owning a bra is often unaffordable or unobtainable.

D'Elegance, which sells body-shaping and posture-improving products for women, decided to support the project as part of its corporate-giving efforts.

From June to December last year, the company collected more than 3,000 pre-loved bras.

However, it felt that the collected quantity was too small and held off sending the undergarments to the Philippines.

With Giving Week coming up, Mr Peh says it decided to open up a new round of collection, which started last month.

Within a month, it collected more than 6,000 new and second-hand bras.

They will now need to be sorted - according to size and type (normal, maternity or mastectomy bras).

Sorting staff will also need to ensure that the items are in good condition before they are placed into cartons.

Mr Peh stresses that some bras will not make the cut, such as those that are old and dirty, have lost elasticity, or have crumpled bra cups.

He adds that for the first round of collection last year, only staff, family members and some friends were involved in the sorting process.

But for the latest batch of more than 6,000 items, the company plans to open up the sorting process to female members of the public.

Mr Peh says: "We have always believed that D'Elegance can, and should, have a positive impact on the communities we serve.

"We hope that by giving people an opportunity to perform an act of kindness, we will inspire them to want to do more good for others."

The sorting session will be held on Dec 2, from 9am to 9pm. Women who are interested to volunteer can e-mail uplift@delegance.com.sg.

After the bras are sorted, the boxes will be shipped to aid agency Mindanaw Poverty Relief Action in the Philippines, where the items will be distributed to needy women in the community.


Hear stories from 'human books'


The Human Library invites people to have intimate conversations with “human books” in the form of an ex-convict, a single mother and a visually impaired person, among others. PHOTO: ETCH EMPATHY

At this library, visitors will get a good story. But instead of a book, they will get the stories from people.

The Human Library is an outreach programme by social enterprise Etch Empathy and its "books" are humans in the form of an ex-convict, a single mother and a visually impaired person, among others. Participants are invited to have intimate conversations with these "human books".

Etch Empathy co-founder and chief executive Aaron Yeoh, 39, says the non-profit organisation aims to cultivate empathy for marginalised communities through platforms such as this.

"Even though we are a first-world nation, there is still prejudice and inadequate empowerment towards marginalised communities.

"Through simulations like the Human Library, we allow people to step into the shoes of others," he says.

Etch Empathy was set up in 2014.

For Giving Week, it will hold two Human Library events, each with two sessions. Each participant is given 30 minutes to converse with a "human book" before selecting another.

The first event, Human Library in the Dark, in collaboration with the Peranakan Museum, will be held at the museum at 39 Armenian Street on Dec 1 at 6 and 7.30pm.

The other event, Human Library at Red Box, is at 113 Somerset Road, home of Youth Corps Singapore, on Dec 3 at 1 and 3pm.

To sign up, go to peatix.com/group/44991/events


Knit beanies for stillborn babies


The tiny beanies, knitted using hand looms, will be donated to hospitals here. PHOTO: CAUSE CORPS SINGAPORE

As part of Giving Week, volunteering agency Cause Corps Singapore will be collaborating with Angel Gowns Singapore, a group here that provides parents with burial outfits for their premature babies, stillborns or infants who have died.

In an initiative called Loom Knitting For Good, they will create tiny beanies, knitted using hand looms, that are small enough to fit stillborn babies as young as 16 weeks old.The beanies will be donated to hospitals here.

Cause Corps Singapore will also make knitted squares, which can be converted into coldwear items such as scarves, vests and blankets.

Cause Corps is a global, community-driven organisation that does micro-volunteering, which involves using cost-effective, low-commitment, yet impactful actions for a worthy cause.

The chapter here started in July last year with nine volunteers - a number that has since swelled to 703.

Cause Corps Singapore has been running loom-knitting projects regularly, with most of its beneficiaries being communities overseas.

It has made beanies, blankets, vests and scarves for Nepalese babies as well as orphans in Bhutan and Myanmar, in the hope that the items will keep the little ones warm in their countries' cold climates.

For Giving Week, however, Cause Corps Singapore director Phang Ling, 26, says they want to do something for the local community.

Its Giving Week Loom Knitting For Good session will take place at lifestyle retailer Naiise's store at The Cathay on Dec 2 from noon to 2pm.

Anyone keen to help can sign up at www.meetup.com/CauseCorpsSingapore/events

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline 'A week for giving'. Print Edition | Subscribe