More than 800 Woodlands residents received packets of rice and porridge yesterday evening on the first day of Ramadan, the first initiative of its kind for the area.
The packets were given out to residents of all races and religions outside Block 852, Woodlands Street 83 by Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin and 40 Woodlands grassroots volunteers.
Mr Amrin, who is also an MP for Sembawang GRC, said the effort was an attempt to replicate the practice of mosques, which give out porridge every day during Ramadan. "This is the time for us to share with the less fortunate," he said, adding that several of the volunteers were from temples and churches.
Food will be given out to residents every Monday evening during the month of Ramadan, and special effort will be made to deliver food to the homes of those who are unable to make it down.
Madam R. Sumathi, 54, who lives alone, said she appreciated the initiative by the grassroots organisations. "I also get food and other help from them monthly so I'm very grateful," said Madam Sumathi, who is unemployed.
Grassroots leader Doris Chong said the effort was a good way of getting people to appreciate other cultures and religions. "This is not just for Malays but people of all races," said 57-year-old Madam Chong.
Muslims mark the month of Ramadan by fasting, refraining from food and drink between dawn and dusk every day. The month will end with the festival of Hari Raya Puasa, which is on July 6 this year.
Many will also congregate at mosques around the island not only to break their fast but also for the tarawih prayers, special night prayers which are held only during Ramadan. Besides fasting, many organisations are stepping up their charitable efforts during this month.
Religious education outfit SimplyIslam hopes to raise $35,000 for its Ramadan Charity Basket, now in its ninth year. For its charity drive this year, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong will distribute rice, dry food and cash to 200 needy families.
Non-governmental organisation Free Food for All also aims to distribute 1,000 packets of halal meals to needy people of all races and religions as part of its Ramadan project.
"We have to show that Islam is a religion of compassion and peace, and we help people regardless of race and religion," said Mr Amrin.