Volunteers chip in to help the needy during Deepavali

During the Lighting Hearts, Lighting Homes event yesterday, Mini car enthusiasts were roped in raise $1,000 as a group and to help distribute gift bags to beneficiaries around the island.
During the Lighting Hearts, Lighting Homes event yesterday, Mini car enthusiasts were roped in raise $1,000 as a group and to help distribute gift bags to beneficiaries around the island.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

For an hour, relationship manager Harvinderjit Singh, 41, and seven childhood friends hauled heavy gift bags filled with rice, oil and other necessities into a lorry.

These weighed about 15kg each. By the end of the work, Mr Singh and his friends were drenched in sweat.

But the effort, they said, was worth the knowledge that the bags would be on their way to more than 40 beneficiaries from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore.

"The last time I did some voluntary work was in 2003 on a trip to India. There has been a gap and I thought I ought to do something this year," said Mr Singh.

He was one of 550 volunteers who helped to pack, bake and distribute food and other provisions to more than 1,000 beneficiaries around the island yesterday.

A grassroots initiative, Lighting Hearts, Lighting Homes began in 2013 as a way for volunteers to spread festive cheer to needy Indian families during the Deepavali festival.

The project has since grown to include beneficiaries of all races, and to take place during major holidays like Hari Raya and Christmas as well, said founder Logapreyan Renganathan, a civil servant.

This year, the group raised more than $110,000.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who launched the event yesterday, praised volunteers for chipping in. He said: "There are many initiatives all over, some by the Government, some by the people themselves - and that is what makes a vibrant, bonded community."

Another volunteer, entrepreneur Alan Phua, 34, roped in fellow Mini car enthusiasts to raise $1,000 as a group and to help distribute the bags to beneficiaries. "It is a privilege for Singaporeans to help one another, and if everyone steps in, it isn't too much work," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Volunteers chip in to help the needy during Deepavali'. Print Edition | Subscribe