Meals on wheels for a cause

British expatriate hits the streets as a food delivery rider to raise money for cancer-stricken kids

After hearing the circuit breaker extension announcement on April 21, British expatriate Anthony Houlahan decided he had enough of staying home.

He resolved to put his spare time to good use.

The 49-year-old vice-president of strategy for telecommunications company Ericsson Telecommunications signed up as a GrabFood delivery rider.

His mission: To raise $100,000 for the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF) by the end of the circuit breaker period, whenever that might be.

The Singapore permanent resident, who has been living here for 18 years, says: "It was a completely spur-of-the-moment decision. I picked the CCF because I wanted to help children in need. They have done nothing to deserve their illness and have their whole lives ahead of them."

Doing bicycle deliveries in the evenings and weekends, after he is done with his day job, is a way for Mr Houlahan to stay fit and deal with feelings of isolation.

He lives alone. His wife and two daughters - aged 21 and 23 - are in the United Kingdom.

Mr Houlahan started making food deliveries on April 22 and raised $4,500 in five days, after counting tips and donations.

In two weeks, he has raised more than $15,000 - of which more than half was donated through the website.

The other half came from pledges based on his GrabFood earnings.

For these pledges, people can choose to donate from five cents to $1 for every dollar Mr Houlahan earns, which he reports daily on his website.

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For his 49th birthday last month, Mr Anthony Houlahan asked friends to back his campaign to raise funds for children in need. PHOTO: HEIKO MOELLER

On weekdays, he does about eight deliveries a day during lunchtime or in the evenings after work.

During weekends, he starts at 10.30am and knocks off at about 6.30pm.

On Saturday last week, he cycled a record 77km and made 21 deliveries.

Working about 20 to 25 hours a week, Mr Houlahan estimates a typical rider can earn about $400 a week.

For his birthday on April 26, he encouraged his friends to support his campaign, instead of giving him presents.

Some of his friends have donated about $250 each to his effort and he is looking to tap corporate sponsors for more.

On his deliveries, he explains his cause to customers in a message on the Grab app and hands them a flier.

"People have been amused to see me as their delivery man. Some have left me tips, which I then donate on their behalf.

"Such interactions, which may seem a small thing, brighten up my day and make a difference to my own mental well-being," he says.

Being a food delivery rider has also been an eye-opener for Mr Houlahan.

"I'm just doing this on a part-time basis, hoping to make a difference. But many people do this daily to feed their families. I have so much respect for all that they do."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2020, with the headline Meals on wheels for a cause. Subscribe