SINGAPORE - There are 16 days left to the end of The Boys' Brigade's Christmas charity project Share-A-Gift, but only 34 per cent of its target has been reached.
For Share-A-Gift's 30th edition this year, The Boys' Brigade aims to help 42,296 beneficiaries, its most ambitious target since it began the project in 1988.
From 2014 to 2016, the project typically had 35,000 to 40,000 beneficiaries a year.
It is upping its effort to get more public donations for Share-A-Gift, which distributes food items to the less fortunate and fulfils their Christmas wishes.
The Boys' Brigade said more than 400 registration slots for volunteers to deliver items to beneficiaries are still vacant. Only 24 per cent of the slots have been filled by volunteers.
Last year, donations for general wishes - which are household items and food, as opposed to specific wishes beneficiaries ask for - were at 39 per cent of the target at a similar stage in the project. By this time last year, almost half of the registration slots for delivery were filled.
On Saturday (Dec 2), 180 volunteers in more than 80 volunteer vehicles and two buses took on the first wave of food hamper deliveries to beneficiaries' homes.
The volunteers delivered 860 food hampers to the homes of more than 430 beneficiaries.
The car flag-off was led by Ms Joan Pereira, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.
"I encourage families to come together to volunteer," she said. "The end of the year is about bonding and celebrating the closing of the year together, and volunteering is something that is meaningful."
Share-A-Gift is supported by the National Council of Social Service and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Beneficiaries include those on ComCare assistance, which provides help for low-income individuals and families, and families or individuals identified by voluntary welfare organisations.
They can receive food hampers that consist of 25 items, put together from public donations.
Each hamper, containing food items such as Milo, rice and instant noodles, is estimated to last beneficiaries for four months or more.
Beneficiaries can also indicate specific wishes, such as a school bag or a toaster, which will be fulfilled by The Boys' Brigade.
Mr Lui Chong Chee, chairman of this year's project, said: "The project is nearing its halfway mark, and we have only achieved 34 per cent of its target. With the highest number of beneficiaries in our 30-year history, we are working tirelessly to make the project a success... We need the help of the public to come forward to do their part for the community."
In an effort to increase its outreach, the organisation also launched a Virtual Box on Nov 21, where the public can contribute through online donations.
The Boys' Brigade added that over the years, the organisation has seen a substantial increase in online traffic to its website.
Still, the personal touch is needed, said Mr Lui.
"There must still be the physical aspect where people bring the goods to contribute and then take these contributions to people's homes. We need the touch and feel, not just a click of the button."
More donations of canned food such as tuna, sardines and baked beans, as well as rice, biscuits and cereal, are especially welcome, Mr Lui added.
Beneficiary Ong Poh Beng, 70, is happy about the hamper he has received.
The retiree lives alone in a one-room flat and has no one left in his family.
"I've been receiving the hampers for three years and they help me greatly. I especially like the biscuits," he said.
Members of the public can donate general food and household items at various FairPrice outlets islandwide from 11am to 9pm daily until Dec 18. They can also sign up to volunteer to deliver gifts to beneficiaries from Dec 4 to Dec 29.
For more information, the public can visit www.bbshare.sg