HSBC staff create home study spots for needy kids

Cass Eng, 13, who benefited from a previous HSBC corporate responsibility event, lending a hand in this year's effort. Here she is sorting out a household's belongings while their flat is being cleared to make way for new furniture.
Cass Eng, 13, who benefited from a previous HSBC corporate responsibility event, lending a hand in this year's effort. Here she is sorting out a household's belongings while their flat is being cleared to make way for new furniture.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

More than 200 children now have proper study areas in their homes, after staff and corporate partners from HSBC bank helped to refurbish their flats over four days this week.

The children received new furniture such as desks and bookshelves.

Most of them are from low-income families where each person earns less than $450. A number are also from single-parent households.

The 800 HSBC volunteers were joined by nine children who had previously benefited from the bank's home makeovers - part of the bank's annual "All in a Day's Work" corporate responsibility challenge.

One of them was Secondary 1 student Cass Eng, 13, of Queenstown Secondary School, who said she wanted to pay forward the good deed done for her in 2011.

"I can study in a better environment now. Previously I just did my homework anywhere in my home because there was no study table," she said.

The volunteers also helped to make life more comfortable for 30 needy elderly folk by giving them new furniture, repairing broken fixtures and repainting their homes.

The bank's chief executive and group general manager Guy Harvey-Samuel said basic improvements to the homes will hopefully give the beneficiaries a better shot at life.

"We show them that we care for their well-being so that they will be encouraged by our concern and goodwill for them, to not give up, but try harder," he said.

The bank also raised more than $95,000 through internal fund-raising and donations from corporate partners.

This money went to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which gives a monthly stipend to students from low-income homes to help them with school-related expenses, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which helps underprivileged children develop their talents in music, dance, theatre and the visual arts.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg