Festive packs for 750 needy families

Annual effort to help community enjoy Deepavali benefits non-Indians as well

Some 750 needy families across Singapore got early Deepavali cheer yesterday morning, ahead of the Festival of Lights on Saturday. And for the first time this year, non-Indians were specifically helped too.

Beneficiaries received festive packs filled with Deepavali goodies as part of an annual effort called Lighting Hearts, Lighting Homes, to ensure that members of the community - regardless of racial or economic background - can enjoy Deepavali.

Event organiser Logapreyan Renganathan, a civil servant, explained that while a handful of non-Indian families were identified by participating family service centres and voluntary welfare organisations in previous years, this is the first time that the event has specifically targeted needy individuals of other backgrounds, such as those with special needs. "I've come to a point where I can give more and, henceforth, I want to reach out to more individuals in need," he said.

More than 300 volunteers gathered in Yishun Ring Road to collect and distribute the festive packs to needy families islandwide.

Volunteer Joyce Poon, 41, a senior manager, saw the event as a chance to give back to society, as well as an opportunity to promote social cohesion. Doing their part to help "transforms us as well, to realise there are people (who are) less fortunate", she said.

Each pack contained festival must-haves such as the murukku Indian snack, as well as everyday household essentials such as rice.

Now in its fourth year, the event raised some $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations - more than the initial $60,000 target. The donations were raised by families, friends and well-wishers of the team behind the initiative.

For Madam Agnes Sandanam, 54, who lives with her husband, daughter and grandchild in a one-room flat in Jalan Kukoh, the festive pack was "a blessing". She said the pack will help relieve some of the family's financial burden during Deepavali.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Festive packs for 750 needy families'. Print Edition | Subscribe