SINGAPORE - Housewife Mahaletchumi Asokan, 31, looks forward to receiving festive packs in October each year, knowing Deepavali is round the corner.
After receiving a festive pack on Sunday (Oct 24) from the volunteers from the Boon Lay Community Centre (CC), she said: "I felt happy and excited because Deepavali is coming.
"I think my daughter is even more excited because she started asking me when is Deepavali, and looked inside the bag once we received it."
Madam Mahaletchumi was one of the 250 families of Block 188 Boon Lay Drive that received the pack on Sunday.
The festive pack is a collaboration between the People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees (IAEC) Council and the Malay Activity Executive Committees (MAEC) Council to spread the festive joy of Deepavali and foster deeper inter-ethnic understanding.
The councils coordinate the activity executive committees at the various CCs islandwide.
Each pack is worth about $40 and includes a box of festive cookies, a tin of instant oatmeal, one packet of Milo, ginger tea and mixed snacks, a box of disposable masks, a bottle of hand sanitiser and a copy of a Health Promotion Board recipe booklet.
About 1,000 volunteers from 90 IAECs and MAECs will distribute festive packs to almost 3,500 low-income families of different races from Oct 19 to Nov 7.
Administrative executive Sumitra Shambasivan, 42, has been volunteering with Boon Lay CC IAEC for more than 14 years.
She said: "I think it's very fruitful to do this on a Sunday, and, of course, love to see the smile on our residents' faces after they receive the gift packs. I feel really happy to do this and I think it will really help the residents as well."
Student Sri Dinah Diyanah, 17, a volunteer with Boon Lay CC's MAEC since 2011, said she is happy to provide support and encouragement to the residents.
"When the residents need help, we should actually help them because we never know when we need someone's help also. By volunteering, it makes me learn that helping one another is not that difficult because in order to make people happy, we should actually help them also," she added.
National Development Minister and adviser to West Coast GRC Grassroots Organisations Desmond Lee also personally delivered 20 festive packs to the families.
He said: "The fact that volunteers of all races and backgrounds come together to make this effort at the time of the pandemic, I think speaks volumes about Singapore's multiculturalism."
Student Saranya Balamurugan, 15, whose family received the pack from Mr Lee, said that she looks forward to celebrating Deepavali with her family at home this year.
"I feel grateful that the volunteers from Boon Lay CC took the initiative of passing the culture of Deepavali to residents of other races here," she added.
"I think it is quite exciting because people from other cultures get to learn how Deepavali is actually celebrated, and they get to taste the sweets and stuff that we have for Deepavali," she added.