SINGAPORE - The Boys' Brigade has successfully reached out to a record 42,296 beneficiaries after a slow start to the 30th year of its Share-A-Gift project (BBSG). From 2014 to 2016, the project typically had 35,000 to 40,000 beneficiaries a year.
This year's project, which distributes food items to the needy and fulfils their Christmas wishes, was launched on Nov 21.
Earlier this month, the Boys' Brigade called for more donations after finding the programme short of donations and volunteers.
On Dec 3, more than 400 slots for volunteers to deliver items to beneficiaries were still vacant, with only 24 per cent of slots filled. As for donations of household and food items, only 34 per cent of the target had been met by Dec 2, compared to 39 per cent around the same time the year before.
Mr Lui Chong Chee, chairman of BBSG 2017, said: "Following our appeals for contributions, we saw an outpouring of support. Our call to action on our BBSG Facebook page... reached out to almost 80,000 netizens."
He added there was a spike in donations within three or four days of the online calls. Items like rice topped the targets quickly, while halal food items were harder to get.
But in the end, donations were - for the first time - all met by Dec 12, with extra donations to spare by Monday (Dec 18), to be given to charities under BBSG.
The closing ceremony on Monday saw 14 BB members and some of their parents, as well as BB alumni, sweep through Warehouse Club by NTUC FairPrice in Joo Koon to help 20 of this year's beneficiaries pick out groceries.
Each beneficiary, from Yuhua Senior Activity Centre, had a $50 voucher from NTUC FairPrice. For Madam Sahaimah Osman, 74, the experience was enjoyable, thanks to Ms Roshida Jamari, 41, a FairPrice Foundation special projects manager who guided her around.
She said: "I was very happy to explore the large supermarket, and talking to Roshida was fun. I got to buy things like garlic bread, tea and butter. I'll use the butter to make kueh for me and my husband."
The couple, both retired, live in a one-room flat in Jurong East.
Lim Dong Kiat, 15, a member of the 94th Singapore Company for three years, helped Madam Tang Swee Peng, 71, to pick out groceries.
"It was fun to show her around the place as it was new to her. We walked with the chairman but I wasn't nervous or anything. It's my third time helping out with Share-A-Gift," said the Nanhua High School student.
From Tuesday, the BBSG Gift Boxes and Specific Wish Trees will no longer be available at the various NTUC FairPrice outlets for people to drop off food donations and adopt specific wishes.
But the project still needs around 10 volunteer vehicles for food hamper deliveries till Dec 29. There are two sessions a day at 10.30am and 2pm, with 12 volunteer vehicles needed for each time slot. Volunteers can go to www.bbshare.sg to sign up.