SINGAPORE - It has not been an easy few years for hawker Haw Seh Kian.
After the father of two was diagnosed with a heart condition, his wife underwent an expensive operation and his daughter gave birth at just 16 - all of which placed huge financial pressure on the 49-year-old, who earns around $2,000 a month from his vegetarian stall in Jurong West.
So when his family on Friday (Feb 2) received a fortune bag - or "fu dai'' in Mandarin - Mr Haw said it gave them fewer things to worry about, adding: "The bag really eases the burden on us."
More than 2,000 volunteers, from organisations including Standard Chartered Bank and SMRT, packed more than 6,000 festive bags to be given out to families in need and the elderly in the fifth edition of the Community Chest Fu Dai.
Needy families received bags with 17 essential items and Chinese New Year goodies such as biscuits, rice and Pacific clams. The elderly received bags containing 10 food items, including mee goreng and flour vermicelli. SMRT also donated 2,500 EZ-Link cards to seniors.
Mr Romy-Indra Rahman, 45, who is married with three children, also received a "fu dai''. The field officer at debt collection agency Amequity had a car accident about two months ago, leaving him unable to work.
The sole breadwinner chose to go back to work on Friday - despite being told to rest longer - and said the goodie bag would help put his wife and him in a better state of mind.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee launched this year's Fu Dai event on Friday, at Big Box in Jurong. He packed bags with volunteers and visited houses, including Mr Haw's and Mr Romy-Indra's.
"This is what the SG Cares spirit is about, bringing everyone together to build a caring and inclusive society, to make sure that no one is left behind," he said, referring to the national movement to promote volunteering.
Mr Lee also said there are now more than 20,000 volunteer openings being offered by more than 400 organisations on the recently launched SG Cares app.
The second day of Community Chest Fu Dai will see a reunion lunch with needy seniors at Big Box in Jurong, led by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.