Covid-19 galvanised people to step up, help one another: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob visiting ITE College Central to observe a series of skills training workshops on Sept 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Covid-19 has not dampened the public's interest in volunteering to help others. Instead, it galvanised people to support one another, President Halimah Yacob said on Thursday.

Although businesses and individuals were affected by the pandemic, support for those in need and charitable causes increased, she noted.

The pandemic also opened up opportunities to help others, she added, citing a volunteer she met who organised online programmes for stroke victims.

Madam Halimah was speaking to reporters at ITE College Central, where she observed a series of skills training workshops conducted by staff and student volunteers as part of the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive.

At these workshops, beneficiaries were taught how to maintain air-conditioner units.

The president also visited the school's Farm To Fork For Needy Garden, where staff and students grow and harvest 100kg worth of vegetables every two months to distribute to low-income families.

"President's Challenge is not just a question of us raising funds, it's also about galvanising people," she said, lauding the school for its efforts in mobilising volunteers.

During the pandemic, these volunteers helped take care of the needs of seniors and people with disabilities, and conducted programmes on robotics and video editing, she added.

The President's Challenge is a national movement started in 2000 to rally Singaporeans to help the disadvantaged and build a more cohesive society. Its focus this year is on supporting low-income families, many of whom were affected by the pandemic.

The President's Challenge Volunteer Drive was initiated in 2012 to get individuals to use their skills to help the less fortunate.

On Thursday, Madam Halimah said that over the past 10 years, about 82,000 volunteers have contributed their time and talent to communities in need under the drive.

"We hope many more will come forward," she said. "At the end of the day, what gives us the greatest satisfaction is not just taking care of ourselves, our family, but how we can help others and help them improve their lives."

One volunteer she met was Mr Mohammed Nasir, a mechatronics engineering lecturer at ITE College Central. He said: "I volunteer because I just want to help to decrease the burden of these lower-income families."

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