20,000 needy kids get pick of free books

Mr Seah (left) looking at school books with parents and caregivers at the City Square Mall distribution point yesterday.
Mr Seah (left) looking at school books with parents and caregivers at the City Square Mall distribution point yesterday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Share-A-Textbook programme, which opens to the public today, collects 400,000 books

Madam Shamima Begum, 35, finds it expensive to buy textbooks every year for her four schoolgoing daughters, aged seven to 13.

So the stay-at-home mother was relieved yesterday to walk away with bags of assessment books and storybooks for her children.

Her daughters were among the 20,000 needy students given choice picks of 400,000 donated textbooks, storybooks, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and assessment books at NTUC FairPrice's Share- a-Textbook programme.

"The books help us save money," said Madam Shamima, whose husband earns $1,600 a month as a facility assistant at the Civil Service Club.

The programme collects used textbooks from the public, sorts, then places them at various locations for people to pick up.

Starting last month, used textbooks were collected at 159 donation points at all FairPrice stores.

Needy students were given priority at the distribution centres yesterday, before they are open to the public today.

NTUC FairPrice worked with voluntary welfare organisations and community development councils to identify needy students between the ages of seven and 16.

This year, there are five distribution centres: Changi City Point, City Square Mall, Warehouse Club, Gan Eng Seng School and Yio Chu Kang Secondary School.

The programme, which is in its 34th year, has two objectives.

NTUC FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said it aims to help needy families and get Singaporeans to reuse and recycle.

Since 1983, more than 4.7 million books have gone through the Share-a-Textbook programme.

This year, 130 volunteers were tapped to help with sorting and distribution, said Mr Seah, who is also an MP for Marine Parade GRC.

Volunteer Lee Hui Ling, 29, a food scientist, was at the City Square Mall distribution centre yesterday where she spent her Saturday helping students hunt down the correct textbooks.

The volunteers spent a total of 2,080 hours helping out with the project.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline '20,000 needy kids get pick of free books'. Print Edition | Subscribe