Christmas came early for some 150 pupils yesterday, when they received school bags and vouchers to buy stationery and other items ahead of the new school year.
They were each given a budget of between $20 and $40, and shopped for their school materials at Northpoint mall's Popular bookstore.
The children were joined by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure andTransport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who is a Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC.
The initiative, called Pack My Backpack, was organised by the Sembawang Community Centre Youth Executive Committee.
Last year, committee volunteers packed bags of storybooks and stationery for the children, and delivered them to their homes.
"But we received feedback that there were some things that people needed but were not able to get," said committee chairman Gillian Goh, 25, who explained why the structure of the event was changed. "This way, our volunteers get to interact more with the children as well," she said.
Children in Sembawang were not the only ones receiving gifts yesterday.
JTC Corporation granted the Christmas wishes of 50 children, and staff volunteers presented the gifts at a party hosted by the Hong Kah North Community Club Youth Executive Committee.
The children are beneficiaries of the Adopt-A-Precinct initiative in Hong Kah North which reaches out to vulnerable residents in three-room flats.
For Muhammad Nur Irfan, 10, it was his first Christmas party.
Muhammad, who received a Lego set, said: "I wished for a Lego set so that I can build my favourite aeroplanes!"
In a separate event, close to 200 children of security officers received bursary and scholarship awards from the Union of Security Employees (USE) yesterday.
Jointly funded by USE and NTUC's U-Care Fund, more than $48,000 in awards were given out.
The awards are named after the late Mr M. Sanji, who served the labour movement for more than a decade as vice-president of USE from 2000 to 2009 and as its general secretary from 2009 to 2011.
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour at the event, said: "In life, he was a champion for the welfare of union members, so it is indeed fitting that USE is giving out these scholarships, in honour of his memory, to members' children."