SINGAPORE - A record $8,861,222 was disbursed to 13,000 beneficiaries by The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) in 2021, higher than the $6.7 million distributed in 2020.
Applications for the fund grew by 25 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund was started as a community project by The Straits Times to provide pocket money to children from low-income families to help them through school.
Since its inception in 2000, STSPMF has disbursed more than $80 million and helped close to 180,000 cases of children and young people in need.
Among the beneficiaries are siblings Pang Jing Han, 17, and Pang Jing Wen, nine, who had to tighten their belts when their cabby father started getting fewer passengers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Jing Han and Jing Wen, the money will help to pay their tuition fees. Jing Han also hopes the money can be used for university in the future.
Another beneficiary, Lim Zhi Yi Jade, 15, also had to forego things she wanted, such as matching keychains and an ice-skating outing with friends, as she had to prioritise spending money on essentials such as food when times got tough.
As the vice-president of the Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) Chinese orchestra, Jade wants to use the money to buy her own yangqin, a Chinese string instrument, so she can practise playing outside of school.
“I often find that I don’t have enough time to practise during my co-curricular activity period, especially since it starts right after a hectic and stressful day of learning, leaving me lethargic and unable to fully commit to practising my instrument,” she said.
On Tuesday (Dec 28), the three beneficiaries and their families were invited to a festive lunch at The Orchard Cafe at Orchard Hotel Singapore to celebrate Millennium & Copthorne Hotels’ partnership with STSPMF and its support of the beneficiaries.
They were given gifts such as festive cakes and a goody bag consisting of a 2022 calendar, hongbao packets and Chinese New Year otter plushies by Mr Paul Hugentobler, cluster general manager of Orchard Hotel Singapore.
As the last donation in 2021, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels raised $65,000 for STSPMF by donating proceeds from each Otter Family Christmas Adventure staycation package purchased on its properties from December 2020 to November 2021.
The impact of the pandemic amid the launch of the funding project resulted in a shortfall of the amount collected. However, the management of Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) Asia felt it was important to help the children especially during these trying times, said Mr Paul Er, vice-president of sales at MHR.
He added: “Thus, Millennium Hotels and Resorts topped up to meet the monthly target donation for this meaningful cause.”
STSPMF general manager Tan Bee Heong said MHR’s donation will go a long way in helping STSPMF provide the necessary financial assistance to its beneficiaries.