SINGAPORE - When office manager Linda Kuan, 55, was growing up, she received new clothes only once a year - during Chinese New Year.
Her father died when Ms Kuan, an only child, was in primary school. Her mum was a factory worker so money was tight.
In February this year, Ms Kuan started attending sewing classes to fulfil a long-held wish. Recalling her childhood, she came up with a "wild idea" to tailor-make clothes for poor seniors to help them celebrate Chinese New Year next year.
She gathered friends she met through her classes. They formed an informal group called Sewing Hearts last month, with members ranging from housewives to high-flying professionals.
Ms Kuan, a mother of three children, said: "The Chinese tradition is to wear new clothes during Chinese New Year, but some seniors cannot afford a piece of new clothing.
"And for the older generation, getting new clothes is something very precious as Chinese New Year was often the only time in the year they got new clothes."
With a grant from oscar @ sg fund to buy the fabric to sew the clothes, the group will tap their skills to help dress up 36 low-income elderly or seniors who live alone.
The Temasek Trust launched the $10 million fund in April last year to support ground-up initiatives that respond to community needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Temasek Trust is the philanthropic arm of state investor Temasek.
Sewing Hearts will give each senior either a blouse, dress or shirt in a colour of his or her choice. Ms Kuan said: "The seniors were very excited and happy when we were taking their measurements."
Some had special requests.
One senior who wears a stoma bag, which is attached to her abdomen to help her clear her bowels, asked for her blouse to be of a longer length to cover it.
Another wanted a sexy low-cut dress.
Madam Patricia Lim, 73, was delighted to receive her pink floral patterned blouse with a Chinese collar. She feels the colour makes her look younger.
"This is the first time I have had custom-made clothes and the first time somebody has given me new clothes for Chinese New Year, so it is special to me. I'm excited and happy," said Madam Lim, who attends an active ageing centre run by Lions Befrienders.
Like Madam Lim, most of the beneficiaries of this Sewing Hearts initiative are seniors served by the Lions Befrienders, a social service agency .
As of Dec 22 this year, the oscar @ sg fund has approved 275 projects.
They include an initiative by Bartley Community Care Services to engage seniors through online platforms from January next year. The group has been unable to conduct in-person activities for seniors amid the pandemic.
Volunteers will visit them weekly in their homes and use a tablet to engage them in exercises and interactive games, among other things.
Another oscar @ sg fund project involves students who are pursuing a diploma in sports coaching in Republic Polytechnic. Together with their lecturers, they will conduct a workshop to engage young people with autism through sports and movement.
If you are interested to join Sewing Hearts, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org