SINGAPORE - About $12 million has been raised to help needy children here since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago, as more businesses and people dug deeper into their pockets to support the children.
The Singapore Children's Society said on Wednesday (March 23) that last year, a record $6.4 million was donated by 1,744 enterprises and individuals to two of its fund-raising initiatives.
In 2020, the charity collected $5.6 million from 1,540 businesses and individuals.
The organisation's chairman, Mr Koh Choon Hui: "In 2020, as Singapore was grappling with the realities of living with Covid-19, children felt confused and worried about the ongoing uncertainties.
"In fact, over the past two years, appeal for financial assistance has been (greater) than in pre-Covid-19 times... a clear indication of how the lower-income families have been hit harder by the pandemic."
Mr Koh was speaking at a donor appreciation event at the ParkRoyal on Beach Road hotel on Wednesday.
In his speech at the event, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is the charity's patron, said: "Children represent our hope and our future. We want to do our best and ensure the well-being of each and every child, in particular, those in need of care and protection.
"Going through tough times together is the true test of the strength of our social fabric - how well we take care of one another, and give a helping hand to those who have fallen behind, so that we can overcome our difficulties and progress as one as a society."
SM Teo added that he was heartened by the response to the organisation's two initiatives - the 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need and 1000 Philanthropists programmes, dubbed 1000E and 1000P, respectively.
The 1000E and 1000P, which were launched in 2009 and 2014 respectively, saw participants' ranks swell over the past two years, according to Mr Koh.
The 1000E is made up of 635 enterprises, 60 of which had joined just in 2021, while 1000P saw its membership grow to 1,109 individual donors, of whom 144 are new to the programme.
Pre-school education company MapleBear, one of the society's patron enterprises and its biggest donor, raised $125,000 last year.
MapleBear chief executive Patricia Koh said: "We used to raise funds through a carnival organised by the teachers, but when Covid-19 came, we were a little stuck.
"We decided to let each of our centres have its own initiative to raise funds, such as our story box initiative last year, where parents donated a minimum of $25 for a shoebox that was used in a learning activity with their children."
Individual donor Lim Han, 38, and his wife, Madam Moon Jiyoung, 37, donated $30,000, mostly comprised of their wedding hongbao takings when they got married last year.
"All the preparations had already been done, so we decided a month before the wedding that we would donate what our guests were going to give us to the Children's Society.
"We did not want to tell them beforehand in case it influenced the amount they gave, and we thought it would be a way to raise awareness," said Mr Lim, who works in the shipping industry.
Addressing donors who attended in person and virtually, Mr Koh said: "All of you here today have helped us to raise the much-needed funds to make our work possible.
"Your continued support will allow us to bring hope and smiles to more children, youth and families in need."