Arc Children's Centre raises $273,000 at gala lunch after two-year Covid-19 hiatus

Children performing a song during the Arc Charity Gala Lunch on Sept 18, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
DPM Heng Swee Keat posing for pictures during the charity lunch. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A charity daycare centre for children with cancer and other critical illnesses, which saw a 60 per cent decline in donations during the pandemic, raised $273,534 at a charity gala lunch on Sunday.

The lunch for Arc Children's Centre had been an annual feature since 2011 but was halted in the last two years because of Covid-19.

This year's event was held at Shangri-La Hotel, with about 500 guests including Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Mrs Goh Chok Tong, the patron of Arc, and Dr Gerard Ee, chairman of the Charity Council and the Agency for Integrated Care.

Speaking at the lunch, Mr Heng acknowledged how Arc did not scale back its support despite Covid-19 affecting fund-raising efforts and operations.

He added: "During the circuit breaker, you quickly pivoted to send activity packs to the families, and conducted lessons over Zoom for the children so that they could continue with their learning.

"And when the children were subsequently able to return to the centre, you did all you can to ensure that it was a safe and clean environment for them, by tightening your processes and stepping up cleaning."

Mr Heng added that the Government and the Tote Board will be providing Arc with up to $250,000 in matching grants.

In a press release, Arc, which relies largely on public donations, said the funds raised from the lunch will go towards various programmes that give beneficiaries access to a well-rounded care and support system that helps in their recovery, both physically and emotionally.

Since it started in 2011, Arc has provided support for more than 240 children and their families, and currently provides day centre support for around 70 children, some of whom put up performances during Sunday's event.

A tribute was also paid to Dr Rita Yeoh, the founding chair of Arc, who died in June this year at the age of 99.

Speaking to The Straits Times, current chair Chia Ngiang Hong welcomed the resumption of the gala lunch, noting that the organisation had to tap its reserves during the pandemic.

He added that Arc will also be looking to have more programmes and expand the number of children it can support.

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