Community heroes hailed for their efforts to help others during Covid-19 pandemic

For Ms Soon, the award is not only an individual honour but also a recognition of the dedication displayed by volunteers who helped her. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHERRY SOON

SINGAPORE - With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Ms Sherry Soon, 39, founder of local ground-up movement Be Kind SG, wanted to give front-line healthcare workers an extra boost.

In early February, she galvanised corporate sponsors, schools, non-profit groups and the Singapore Prison Service to put together 7,000 care packs which contained items such as snacks, toiletries and thank-you notes, among other things, for healthcare staff.

This was one of more than 10 initiatives Ms Soon led during the Covid-19 period.

For her efforts, Ms Soon was among 31 recipients presented with an award by President Halimah Yacob at this year's President's Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) held at the Istana on Friday (Oct 16).

A record number of 236 nominations were submitted for the PVPA this year, more than two times that were received in 2018.

In her address at the ceremony, Madam Halimah noted that despite being a challenging period, the Covid-19 pandemic had also brought out the best in many Singaporeans.

"Over the past few months, I have seen many Singaporeans from all walks of life coming together to help others. It inspires me greatly to know that in the most difficult of times, humanity still prevails," she said.

"This is why I have decided to dedicate this year's PVPA to recognising these unsung heroes who have given selflessly during the Covid-19 outbreak."

Organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the PVPA recognises individuals, organisations and leaders of good that have achieved excellence in giving to the community.

The winners were from various domains such as food security, for providing accommodation, procuring and distributing medical supplies, and disseminating critical information to those without access.

Madam Halimah also acknowledged the role played by organisations such as Food Bank Singapore, which reached out to people on the ground during the pandemic.

Despite facing a drop in volunteers and donations, the group collaborated with more than 80 food and beverage establishments and rallied more than 100 volunteers to distribute 775,000 meals to about 15,000 beneficiaries.

For Ms Soon, the award is not only an individual honour but also a recognition of the dedication displayed by volunteers who helped her.

"Despite facing their own difficulties, the volunteers took out time to help us with these initiatives. We have also seen how a spotlight was thrown on less visible groups like our migrant workers or students with special needs," she said.

"I hope that people continue to remember that there are communities out there that may be under-served and our little acts of kindness can really bond us together."

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