JC grads give seed kits to seniors amid Covid-19

19-year-old trio hope that growing the cotton plants will offer fulfilment, purpose

Madam Tay Yoke Mooi, a Fengshan resident, was among the seniors visited on Monday by (from left) junior college graduates Kampton Kam, Maxine Cassandra Lau and Grace Shani Anthony. The three 19-year-olds are working with The Salvation Army on their i
Madam Tay Yoke Mooi, a Fengshan resident, was among the seniors visited on Monday by (from left) junior college graduates Kampton Kam, Maxine Cassandra Lau and Grace Shani Anthony. The three 19-year-olds are working with The Salvation Army on their initiative to distribute cotton plant seed kits to seniors living in the Fengshan area.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

After receiving their A-level results earlier this year, Ms Maxine Cassandra Lau and Ms Grace Shani Anthony had no idea what to do next.

The 19-year-olds had been close friends since their time in CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh). Unsure about what to study at university, they decided to take a gap year.

Ms Lau, who had been at Anglo-Chinese Junior College, and Ms Anthony, who had been at Raffles Institution, decided to make a difference together.

Ms Anthony, a national track-and-field athlete, roped in her teammate Kampton Kam, 19, who was from Victoria Junior College.

Said Ms Anthony: "We bounced ideas off each other, but we knew we wanted to help the elderly as they were one of the more affected groups during the Covid-19 pandemic - they were more vulnerable to the coronavirus and they had a lot more restrictions."

Many of their friends had also said their grandparents did not want to leave their homes owing to safety concerns, which further isolated them from the rest of the community.

Ms Lau added: "Kampton and I don't live with our grandparents, so we couldn't see them at all. They were all alone, and it got us thinking that other people's grandparents are also living alone, so we were worried and we wanted to help in that area."

The three finally settled on preparing cotton plant seed kits to be distributed to seniors living in the Fengshan area in Bedok. Working with The Salvation Army, they have prepared 120 kits thus far.

Fifty kits will be used in therapy sessions at Peacehaven Nursing Home in Upper Changi.

The group made their first rounds of home visits on Monday and are planning to make a second round today.

A spokesman for The Salvation Army Peacehaven said he hoped the teenagers' initiative would "inspire more people to give back to society in creative ways".

 
 
 

"It's a joy to work with the young generation who are concerned for seniors in the community as many of them are socially isolated," the spokesman added.

Ms Anthony said the group chose cotton seeds because they are easier to grow than edible plants and herbs.

A spokesman for The Salvation Army Peacehaven said he hoped the teenagers' initiative would "inspire more people to give back to society in creative ways".

"It's a joy to work with the young generation who are concerned for seniors in the community as many of them are socially isolated," the spokesman added.

She said: "My family grows cotton plants in our garden at home. My grandma, who lives with us, finds it very fun to play with cotton at home. She loves it."

The trio hope that besides providing the seniors with a source of entertainment, the plants will also give them a sense of purpose.

"We are hoping to teach them crafting skills that they could put to use in the future, with the cotton they get from their plant," said Ms Lau.

"During these sessions, they could craft little toys to be donated. This way, they would be able to see the fruit of their effort benefit others, providing them with a greater sense of fulfilment and purpose."

The project is currently self-funded by the three friends. They are documenting the journey on an Instagram page (@clover_sg).

Said Mr Kam, who is currently serving his national service: "I felt my NS allowance could be put to better use, so why not help others during this period?"

Ms Anthony added that she had savings from when she took on a part-time role at a clinic earlier this year, and decided "to contribute some money I earned since I don't need the money urgently now".

Ms Lau, who is currently doing a research internship at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, added: "The average seed kit costs a dollar. I feel that we are in a very privileged position... so we would like to do our part for the community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2020, with the headline 'JC grads give seed kits to seniors amid Covid-19'. Subscribe