Charities in Singapore get creative to spread festive cheer

ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan (second left) with migrant workers (from left) Abdul Hanna, Veeragnesh and Samy, after giving them presents donated by members of the public, on Dec 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Migrant worker Vijayan with his present distributed by ItsRainingRaincoats, which has been receiving hand-wrapped gifts from members of the public since Dec 10. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Hoping to tap the Christmas spirit, The Food Bank Singapore is putting a spin on its year-end donation drive.

Modelled after the Advent calendar, which counts down to Christmas, its campaign calls upon donors to collect a certain item every day, such as biscuits or jam.

At the end of the 10-day challenge, they can drop off the items at 80 collection points islandwide, including malls, supermarkets and petrol stations.

The charity, which serves 300,000 beneficiaries, including children from low-income families and family service centres, hopes its campaign will become a holiday tradition for families while giving back to the community, said Ms Jessie Tan, a senior management associate at The Food Bank Singapore.

Other charities have also found creative ways to spread the festive cheer.

Since Dec 10, migrant worker organisation ItsRainingRaincoats has been receiving hand-wrapped gifts from members of the public.

These include Bluetooth earphones, water bottles and umbrellas - items commonly requested by migrant workers served by the charity.

After receiving the gifts, volunteers will distribute them to migrant workers at various construction projects.

ItsRainingRaincoats' founder, Ms Dipa Swaminathan, said: "Our dream is to give every migrant worker in Singapore a Christmas present. This year, given the challenges the migrant worker community has faced, there is an even bigger impetus to make this season special for them."

In September, a pilot programme to allow migrant workers in dormitories to go back out into the community kicked off, more than 16 months after movement curbs were first imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) has also launched a month-long campaign rallying women from across the country to support the elderly, people with disabilities and families in need.

To raise awareness of the campaign, SRC has partnered female influencers and entrepreneurs such as actress Jaime Teo and radio DJ Jean Danker.

Since Dec 10, migrant worker organisation ItsRainingRaincoats has been receiving hand-wrapped gifts from members of the public. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Together with other participants, they hope to raise $20,000 overall. Some ways they are doing so include auctioning artworks, making bracelets and playing the piano.

The hard work put in by these charities is paying off.

ItsRainingRaincoats said that in the week since its Christmas campaign was launched, the number of presents it has received is about 20 per cent more than in the same period last year.

The Food Bank Singapore has also seen a 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase in the volume of donations it has received, compared with during non-festive months.

The charities hope that members of the public can donate meaningfully.

Beyond Social Services, which serves children and youth from less privileged backgrounds, said in a statement: "Donating items that are less needful is the outcome of not understanding families' cultures, needs and preferences. For instance, donors give premium baby formula milk, but families are unable to continue using the same brand as they can't afford it."

Ms Sim Bee Hia, Food from the Heart's chief executive, said the charity tries as much as possible to match items to the nutritional needs of specific beneficiaries, such as giving families with dialysis patients healthier choices.

"Find out the needs of the beneficiaries you hope to help so your good intentions won't go to waste and will impact someone's life positively," she said.

How to give to year-end donation drives

1. The Boys' Brigade Share-a-Gift

What the initiative is: The annual project is aiming to reach 44,167 beneficiaries - the highest number yet - with food hampers and supermarket vouchers. It also needs volunteers to help deliver the gifts.

Where to donate: Cash donations can be made online via Giving.sg and PayNow, or at AXS stations till the end of the year. Volunteers can sign up at www.bbshare.sg

2. Singapore Red Cross

What the initiative is: The Singapore Red Cross has launched a month-long campaign aiming to raise $20,000 in support of the elderly, people with disabilities, and families in need.

Where to donate: Red Cross website

3. The Food Bank Singapore

What the initiative is: The Food Bank Singapore is calling for donations of items such as UHT milk, rice and breakfast cereal. Items should be unopened and with at least one month of shelf life left.

Where to donate: Drop off the items at 80 collection points islandwide. More information can be found at the website.

4. Food from the Heart

What the initiative is: Next month, Food from the Heart will kick off a one-year pilot programme to provide at least 1,000 beneficiaries with fresh produce from local farms. They will be able to redeem 12 items a month free at a minimart run by the charity at Block 176 Boon Lay Drive.

Where to donate: bit.ly/3p4ma7f

5. Beyond Social Services

What the initiative is: Beyond Social Services is aiming to raise $20,000 until Jan 31 next year to support its beneficiaries, who are children from low-income families.

Where to donate: bit.ly/hopeactually

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