Volunteers bring festive cheer to low-income residents

Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor, who is also MP for Hong Kah North, and grassroots leaders putting together a table donated to a low-income family.
Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor, who is also MP for Hong Kah North, and grassroots leaders putting together a table donated to a low-income family.PHOTO: HONG KAH NORTH CO

Scrap metal collector Tan Yew Huat is looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year - his home of more than 40 years has been spruced up for the first time.

"It is in some way like a new beginning," said Mr Tan, 59, who has lived in his Hougang four-room flat since 1977 with his two older brothers, aged 65 and 63. Besides newly painted walls, the flat has new locks for the front door and the electrical sockets have been replaced as well.

Mr Tan is among residents from 300 low-income families whose homes will be done up for free, as part of the new A-Better-Home @ North East initiative.

Yesterday, grassroots organisations, contractors and volunteers helped spread festive cheer to the families.

For residents like Mr Tan, even simple repairs are often put off because they cost money. He and his brothers - one of them works as a bus driver and the other is unemployed - have a combined monthly income of just $1,700.

The North East District initiative, which will run until March next year, involves seven contractors who have forked out $350,000 worth of services to help these underprivileged families.

Mr Joseph Ong, managing director of OES Construction, said he saw this as his chance to "give back to society".

In Woodlands, 30 Malay volunteers chipped in to help eight Chinese families and elderly residents spring clean their homes.

Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, an MP for Sembawang GRC, said: "This spring cleaning not only showcases our strong community spirit, but also sends a powerful message on our strong racial bonds."

At Hong Kah North, two families living in rental flats received new wardrobes and dinner tables, while more than 200 families each received a bag of food items worth $30 and a $28 red packet.

The items were sponsored by property agency ERA Realty Network, which donated $43,000 to helping Hong Kah North residents. The remaining sum will go towards the Hong Kah North SG Cares Fund - a relief fund for needy families.

Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said: "Funds like these will add to the ability for us to look out for each other (and) make our lives better together."

Some 400 low-income residents from the North West District were also treated to a Chinese New Year feast yesterday by coffee shop operator Kimly.

Executive director of Kimly Vincent Chia said: "The community has made a difference to our lives by giving us business, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference to their lives by spreading festive joy during the most important festival in the Chinese calendar."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2018, with the headline 'Volunteers bring festive cheer to low-income residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe