SINGAPORE - More than 120 people, including Singaporeans living overseas, wrote in to offer help in some form after reading about 17-year-old Loh Miao Xin and her family in The Straits Times last weekend.
First-year polytechnic student Miao Xin had shared that her mother was out of a job as the coronavirus outbreak had put the Thai hawker stall her mother was working at out of business. The family of three - including younger brother Khim San, 12 - are living in a one-room flat in Bedok.
Many readers wanted to donate to the family directly, while others offered to link up Miao Xin's mother with job opportunities.
As of Friday (April 17), her family had received more than $10,000 in donations.
Miao Xin said: "We managed to clear my mum's $5,500 debt from a previous hospital bill - it's a huge relief. My mum is really happy."
Her mother is going for an interview for a job at a Thai eatery on Monday after a reader wrote in about the opportunity.
The family plans to donate about $5,000 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF).
"I feel like there are people who are more in need than me now, and they deserve more. I would like to ask people to donate to other charities to help other people as well," said Miao Xin, adding that she was very grateful.
"It is very touching to see the amount of help that I've been receiving from people that I don't even know... I cried tears of happiness as it was really a turning point in my life."
One donor, teacher Tonny Lim, said Miao Xin's story resonated with him. He grew up in a one-room flat with his younger sister and mother.
"I can imagine, during this period, how difficult it must be for them when the mother is out of a job and there is no income," said Mr Lim, 43.
He added that the siblings are at the beginning of a new journey, with Miao Xin beginning her first year in polytechnic and Khim San, Secondary 1.
"With this challenging situation and change of school environment, I'm sure they need all the help they can get," he added. He donated $600 - the Solidarity Payment amount he received from the Government.
Mr Kenneth Victor Wicker, 49, said he was drawn to the story because of the siblings' optimism, despite their challenges.
"Their story made me reflect that I am guilty of complaining and being dissatisfied about the smallest things when there are people out there so much more in need. Yet they chin up and carry on. I was inspired," said Mr Wicker, who works as an assistant general manager in the food and beverage industry.
Melvin, 35, who did not want to give his full name, donated to Miao Xin's family and also to the STSPMF, of which Miao Xin and her brother are both beneficiaries.
Calling it a small gesture from a fellow human being, he said: "Children in their schooling days should not be worrying about their expenses. These group of kids should be given an opportunity to be as equal as their peers and focus on their studies."