More than 90 needy children given personalised backpacks for new school year

The Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee organised a donation drive to collect backpacks, story books and stationary from residents to give to needy children for the new year; Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan (front row, second from
The Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee organised a donation drive to collect backpacks, story books and stationary from residents to give to needy children for the new year; Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan (front row, second from left) helped hand out the backpacks to the children on Sunday, Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
(From left) Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, talking with backpack recipient, Ng Ah Jun, 7, his mother Ng Chiew Keok, 50, and Chairman of the Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee Gillian Goh. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR T
(From left) Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, talking with backpack recipient, Ng Ah Jun, 7, his mother Ng Chiew Keok, 50, and Chairman of the Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee Gillian Goh. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, handing over a backpack to Muhd Hykel,12, while his parents,  Madam Mahani bin Samat, 54 and Mr Rolsi bin Baba, 54, look on. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, handing over a backpack to Muhd Hykel,12, while his parents,  Madam Mahani bin Samat, 54 and Mr Rolsi bin Baba, 54, look on. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
(From left) Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and Ms Gillian Goh, chairman of the Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee, speaking with Kelvan Teo, 13, Kelson Teo, 5, Madam Jennifer Tan, 47 and Jasyln Teo, 15. -- PHOTO: DIOS V
(From left) Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and Ms Gillian Goh, chairman of the Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee, speaking with Kelvan Teo, 13, Kelson Teo, 5, Madam Jennifer Tan, 47 and Jasyln Teo, 15. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Christmas came early for more than 90 children from needy families on Sunday. They were given personalised backpacks containing storybooks and stationery, to prepare them for the new school year.

More than 35 youth volunteers from Sembawang CC Youth Executive Committee (YEC) handed out the backpacks on Sunday morning. They were joined by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, adviser to Sembawang Grassroots Organisations and Minister for National Development.

The youths held a five-week donation drive across Sembawang Drive last month to collect backpacks, books and stationery from residents.

Volunteers also asked the child beneficiaries for their favourite colour, cartoon and story book genre, so that the backpacks could be personalised with their preferred items. The children come from 45 households receiving help from the government social aid scheme ComCare.

This is the YEC's first such project. Its chairman Gillian Goh, 24, said she hopes the project will create social awareness among the youths and spread festive love to those in need.

Housewife Noraini Md Jamal, 35, whose 11-year-old son received a backpack, said she hopes having his own storybook will encourage him to read. She has three other sons aged between a month old and four years old.

"I've never bought a storybook for my sons before because of our financial difficulties. We usually borrow from the library," she said.