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Doing good to help feed needy families

(From left) GobblerCo's corporate relations manager Ephraim Teng, 28, and retail executives Nurul Fatehah, 20, and Sean Soo, 24, packing the bags of groceries for beneficiaries.
(From left) GobblerCo's corporate relations manager Ephraim Teng, 28, and retail executives Nurul Fatehah, 20, and Sean Soo, 24, packing the bags of groceries for beneficiaries.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

Duo partner social enterprise for online grocery donation drive in spirit of Ramadan

When Mr Muzammil Mohamad first organised a charity bake sale for his friend's company, he thought it would be a one-off project.

But the positive response to the sale has led to the formation of a social initiative that is now raising funds to feed needy families during Ramadan.

For his first charity bake sale last year, the 32-year-old civil servant gathered friends and food and beverage players as vendors to sell halal pastries to raise funds for charity.

When the bake sale received positive response, Mr Muzammil was approached by an acquaintance, warehouse coordinator Saleha Abdullah, 29, to form a social initiative.

They started Halal Goods Do Good last year and have organised five food sales to raise funds for different charities, including some which have difficulties raising funds due to their size or lack of experience.These events have often required the duo to use money from their own pockets and can cost up to $2,000 per sale.

Mr Muzammil said: "We are a completely non-profit initiative, but we are also not a registered charity. We act as middlemen between charities and the public and help them raise funds."

Now, the duo are embarking on their first pledge event in the spirit of Ramadan. They have partnered local social enterprise GobblerShop to raise funds to provide bags of groceries to needy families. GobblerShop sells groceries at discounted prices and helps the socially disadvantaged find employment.

The groceries will go to the beneficiaries of four charities - Free Food For All, Project Goodwill Aid, Hira Society, and For The People and Community.

Mr Muzammil said: "We are on a timeline to coincide the giving of the bags with Ramadan but the beneficiaries are not solely Muslim. The bags are for everyone."

Festive seasons are peak periods for giving, with many charities organising such events.

Community Chest, the fund-raising arm of the National Council of Social Service, held its Fu Dai event over two days in February, ahead of the Chinese New Year festivities. More than 2,000 corporate volunteers and community groups delivered more than 6,000 fu dai, or goodie bags, to underprivileged seniors and families.

ComChest managing director Ng Ling Ling said: "Another festive event, the annual Christmas On A Great Street Light-Up Ceremony held last November, raised close to $1.4 million in support of about 80 social service organisations supported by the Community Chest."

Donations have grown in the face of the economic upturn. Contributions on Giving.sg, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's online donation platform, increased by more than 20 per cent last year from the previous year. Mr Muzammil hopes this generosity will translate into more donations.

The Halal Goods Do Good initiative will work off GobblerShop's e-commerce platform, where the public can pledge and pay $25 for one bag of groceries, which will include essentials such as rice, oil, Milo and soya bean milk. All the products are halal. The food can last a week for a family of four or five people.

Ms Cheryl Mah, marketing manager of GobblerCo, the parent company of GobblerShop, said: "If money for more than 400 bags is raised, we are ready to curate new bags of groceries. The pledge is only $25 but the retail value of the bags is $45 each, so we are already subsidising the bags in a way."

As of last Friday, the team has raised 270 bags out of its target of 400 bags. The call for pledges is expected to end on Wednesday.

If you want to pledge a bag, go to www.gobblershop.com or visit the Halal Goods Do Good Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HalalGoodsDoGood.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Doing good to help feed needy families'. Print Edition | Subscribe