President's Challenge Volunteer Drive rallies more than 2,200 volunteers despite Covid-19 limitations

President Halimah Yacob speaking with artist Muhammad Fadhil Abdul Jalil at the Metta Welfare Association in Simei on Oct 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Technology is allowing more people to get involved in volunteer work and continue helping others despite restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the year, the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive (PCVD) has rallied more than 2,200 volunteers from over 20 organisations to support its beneficiaries.

Online activities such as hand yoga sessions, digital literacy training workshops and singing sessions have been held by volunteer groups this year.

President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (Oct 14) noted that technology will bring change to the social service sector.

"This year, many volunteering activities cannot take place in their usual forms due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But I am glad that many volunteers have leveraged technology to continue their volunteering activities," said Madam Halimah during her visit to the Metta Welfare Association.

"I hope PCVD will build on this positive momentum and create more regular volunteering opportunities through the use of technology to help the vulnerable groups in Singapore - in line with the theme of President's Challenge 2021 on 'Building a Digitally Inclusive Society'," she added.

During her visit, Madam Halimah met volunteers of CapitaLand's #CareKitWithLove initiative, a community project by its philanthropic arm CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF). The project has brought together more than 250 staff and community volunteers since its launch in September this year.

Volunteers of the initiative have committed to making over 9,000 mask pouches for children and young people with special needs as well as front-line staff at 20 special education schools in Singapore, including Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore School and St Andrew's Autism School.

CHF has also worked with Arts@Metta, a programme under Metta Welfare Association, where artists with special needs designed 2,000 batik mask pouches which are up for sale at CapitaLand's curated digital mall, eCapitaMall, from Wednesday.

Proceeds from the sale will go to Arts@Metta to equip young people with special needs with life skills.

Ms Sarah Yew, a member of youth volunteer group Heartware Network, has been actively involved in virtual volunteering this year. The 19-year-old led online engagement sessions with children from President's Challenge beneficiary agencies, like Care Community Services Society and Morning Star Community Services, and took part in the #CareKitWithLove initiative.

Said Ms Yew: "The virtual format was initially challenging as we faced technical problems and difficulties in keeping the children focused. But over time, we found ways to solve these issues, for example, by choosing the right topics to engage the children in and getting them to respond to our questions.

"I have enjoyed making use of my time in a meaningful manner during the pandemic. I hope that others who are thinking of volunteering will step up to do so, especially during this time when more may be in need of our support."

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