Share-a-Gift overcomes slow start to meet all donation targets

Beneficiary Tang Swee Peng (in blue blouse) and FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng picking out a packet of coffee at Warehouse Club in Joo Koon yesterday, while fellow beneficiary Saad Karim (wearing black cap) received assistance from Boys' Br
Beneficiary Tang Swee Peng (in blue blouse) and FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng picking out a packet of coffee at Warehouse Club in Joo Koon yesterday, while fellow beneficiary Saad Karim (wearing black cap) received assistance from Boys' Brigade president Poh Leong Berg. Also present were BBSG 2017 chairman Lui Chong Chee (wearing a tie), as well as BB members Lim Dong Kiat (left) and Teow Choon Ray, both of whom guided the beneficiaries around.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The Boys' Brigade has successfully reached out to a record 42,296 beneficiaries after a slow start to the 30th year of its Share-a-Gift project, or BBSG. From 2014 to last year, the project typically had 35,000 to 40,000 beneficiaries a year.

The annual project, which distributes food items to the needy and fulfils their Christmas wishes, was launched on Nov 21 and ended yesterday.

Earlier this month, the brigade called for more donations after finding the programme short of donations and volunteers.

On Dec 3, more than 400 slots for volunteers to deliver items to beneficiaries were still vacant, with only 24 per cent of slots filled. Only 34 per cent of the targeted donations of household and food items had been met by Dec 2, compared with 39 per cent around the same time the year before.

Mr Lui Chong Chee, chairman of BBSG 2017, said: "Following our appeals for contributions, we saw an outpouring of support. Our call to action on our BBSG Facebook page... reached out to almost 80,000 netizens."

He added that there was a spike in donations within three or four days of the online appeals.

In the end, targets were all met for the first time, six days before the project ended.

The closing ceremony yesterday saw 14 BB members and some of their parents, as well as BB alumni, helping 20 of this year's beneficiaries to pick out groceries at Warehouse Club by FairPrice in Joo Koon.

Each beneficiary, from Yuhua Senior Activity Centre, had a $50 voucher from FairPrice. For Madam Sahaimah Osman, 74, the experience was enjoyable, thanks to Ms Roshida Jamari, 41, a FairPrice Foundation special projects manager who guided her around.

Madam Sahaimah said: "I was very happy to explore the large supermarket, and talking to Ms Roshida was fun. I got to buy things like garlic bread, tea and butter. I'll use the butter to make kueh for myself and my husband."

The Boys' Brigade still needs around 10 volunteer vehicles for food hamper deliveries till Dec 29. There are two sessions a day, at 10.30am and 2pm, with 12 volunteer vehicles needed for each time slot. Volunteers can go to www. bbshare.sg to sign up.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2017, with the headline 'Share-a-Gift overcomes slow start to meet all donation targets'. Print Edition | Subscribe