SINGAPORE - Half a million used textbooks could be made available for free to needy students this year through NTUC FairPrice's Share-A-Textbook project.
Launched on Monday (Oct 29), the annual project is now in its 36th year and aims to collect 500,000 books from now till Nov 30, the highest target so far.
Besides the large collection goal, this year's project also involves the most number of stores, more than 170, which will serve as drop-off points for the books.
These include all FairPrice supermarkets, including FairPrice Finest supermarkets, FairPrice Xtra Hypermarkets, Warehouse Club and FairPrice Xpress outlets. The launch was officiated by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
At the launch, FairPrice chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng said the project has collected, redistributed and recycled more than 4.7 million textbooks since it began in 1983.
"This year, we have increased the target for the book collection so that more people can benefit from it. To make it even more convenient for donors, we are also opening up all our different format stores for the public to drop off used textbooks," said Mr Seah.
FairPrice worked with social service organisations and Community Development Councils to shortlist the names of 20,000 primary and secondary students from low-income families, who will be given priority to collect textbooks a day before access is given to the general public.
This year, more than 800 volunteers will be required to help in the project, with roles such as sorting and distribution.
Currently, there are about 500 volunteers from various community partners, schools and FairPrice. Gan Eng Seng School, which has supported the project for six years, has one of the largest contingent of volunteers this year, with more than 200 students.
Gan Eng Seng principal Jenny Tan said students help in collecting, sorting, packing and distributing the used textbooks.
"Through these efforts, we strive to nurture kindness and empathy, build resilience and bring out the best in each of our students, as they learn to be more environmentally conscious and giving towards others in the community."