Residents start 'swap shop' in Keat Hong

The Give and Take Corner at Keat Hong, where residents drop off little used household goods, toys and books to help their needy neighbours. -- PHOTO: JEFFERSON NEO
The Give and Take Corner at Keat Hong, where residents drop off little used household goods, toys and books to help their needy neighbours. -- PHOTO: JEFFERSON NEO

SINGAPORE - More than 1,000 items including household appliances, toys and books have been donated by Keat Hong residents to help their needy neighbours.

A collection drive where residents were encouraged to drop off unused or little used household goods across eight residents' committees in Choa Chu Kang started two months ago.

The programme called "Give and Take @ Keat Hong" was launched by MP Mr Zaqy Mohamad this morning.

Of the donated items, 200 have been picked up by needy residents at the "Give and Take" corner on the first floor of Keat Hong Shopping Centre in Choa Chu Kang.

Programme organiser Mr Jefferson Neo, the chairman of the Citizens' Consultative Committee said a team of 20 comprising committee members and resident volunteers, came up with the idea for the programme last year. The estate is home to at least 150 needy families.

Mr Neo said: "We interacted with needy families and better understood their needs after doing home visits. So we came up with this idea and shared it with other residents. They gave us their support although we weren't really confident it would work.

"But were surprised by the volume of donated items such that we now have to looking for storage space near the shopping centre."

Such a drive also helps reduce wastage, he added.

"Instead of throwing out good products such as travel bags, storybooks, shoes, clothes and mattresses, we can give them a new home," he said.

He said some requests from underprivileged families have streamed in. One family hopes for a guitar for their son while two others have asked for a sofa and refrigerator.

One beneficiary is Ms Gayathiri Kaniesen, 29, a document controller. She picked up a set of plates and cups and storybooks for her four-year-old daughter.

"The programme is beneficial because we are not able to afford these things otherwise. I'm thinking of giving back as well and passing on some of my unused clothes," she said.

Mr Neo, who has been volunteering at his estate for the past 15 years, hopes that the programme can be expanded to other neighbourhoods.

"It's a good way to encourage self-help and build up the kampung spirit," he said.