(Photo by Boys’ Brigade)
What can doing charity work do for your kids? Well for starters, it feels good to give — really! Knowing that they are helping gives kids (and you parents) a feeling of purpose and energy.
And frankly, the feeling of community, of working together in a group to help the less fortunate is great for networking (this does not have to be a bad word, does it?).
Last but not least, it can help kids understand how lucky they are in their lives and guide them to learn the benefits of being grateful. Yes, there are joys to that: A paper reported in the American Psychological Association found that “more gratitude in [the study of a group of cardiac] patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health”.
So what can you and your kids do? If you regularly go to a church or temple, there are probably programmes all through the year (but especially at major festivals) that reach out to the needy, and they always need help. If not, check out these ideas…
1. The Boys’ Brigade Share-a-Gift
You’ve seen the boxes (and the bright-faced boys) at NTUCs, so it’s that time of year again: Collections are on as usual until 17 December (but distribution continues to the end of the month, at least). So you can not only give (locations for giving), but even volunteer your help in sorting and transport (at this site). Good fun and car-time to help bond with bubba?
2. Blessings in a Bag
This non-profit organisation brings bags of toys, hygiene products, clothes and school supplies (otherwise known as “blessings”) to disadvantaged children in rural villages across South-east Asia. Some items will be resold in Singapore and the funds collected used to cover operational costs. Visit www.facebook.com/blessingsinabag to learn what they need, put them in a bag CLEARLY labelled ‘Blessings in a Bag’ and drop them off at Pharmaplus, #01-04 Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, Singapore 248649. E-mail email@example.com for more information.
3. The Food Bank Singapore
While FBS collections tend to be from commercial kitchens, they always need volunteers and drivers — you and your kids could help ferry the stuff (bonding time!) or if they are older, perhaps they could do a light workout helping to organise the boxes. Perhaps you could do a drive to collect food from a group (The Food Bank has a list of rules of what is acceptable on their web site). See the web site here for more information.
Other than the Salvation Army (once again, NOT a dustbin — if you donate, make sure it’s usable, clean things carefully packed!) you can give pre-loved furniture a new lease of life — last time we went there, there was some lovely old teak furniture that just needed sanding and revarnishing. It’s managed by the Helping Hand movers, and they also take medical aids, mobility aids and learning aids. Visit www.passiton.org.sg or call 8511-9160 on Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm.
5. The Salvation Army
Its family thrift store in Upper Bukit Timah is a go-to place for vintage secondhand finds but it also helps the underprivileged with its Donation In Kind booths (directory)
If you have bulky items, you can arrange for a collection service by calling 6288-5438, booking online or e-mailing with a brief description of the items you wish to donate, your collection address and contact number.
6. Toy Swap@Downtown East
This one not only helps to clear out your kids’ toy closet, you can actually swap out old toys for brand new ones (sponsored by toy companies) or new-to-you games and the extra games and toys go to needy children supported by NTUC Club. Just make sure your used toys are complete and working (your little wouldn’t want a broken toy, would they!?! This is NOT a dustbin.) This one-time event is on 19 December 2015, Saturday, from noon to 6pm at Event Square@Downtown East
7. SCWO’s New2U Thrift Shop
The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations runs this thrift shop. Stuff is amazingly cheap – as low as a dollar! Proceeds go towards SCWO’s various social initiatives, such as Star Shelter, a safe refuge shelter for battered women and children. Visit the Facebook site or web site or give the shop a call at 6837-0611. The thrift store does not accept furniture, used electrical items, used towels, or old videocassettes/
8. Minds Shop
This shop employs Minds’ clients, training them to handle customers, as well as organise goods for sale. Especially if your child has been asking about disabled kids, it’s a great way to introduce them to these charming people and understand the challenges faced by they face every day, while also shopping. For information, check out www.minds.org.sg/Shop.html or call Linda Yusop at 8180-2095 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Willing Hearts
This secular group provides a soup kitchen and food distribution service (cooked meals) to underprivileged Singaporeans all over the island all year. Currently, they have some 4,500 on their lists. Check out their web site and sign up — the packing is easy enough and older children are also welcome to help. You can also donate money (always welcome, though a little less impersonal and less of a lesson for your littles — unless they’re kindly giving up their piggy bank contents).
10. HCSA Hi-Thrift store & Rag and Bone
Another thrift store, it’s on the premises of Highpoint Community Services Association (HCSA), a halfway house that provides social services to drug addicts, ex-offenders, abused teenaged girls and underprivileged children. In addition, HSCA runs Rag & Bone that collects old clothing, newspapers and other items — again, just because they’re collecting the stuff doesn’t mean you can toss out rubbish! There is a 24-hour drop-off box outside the Hi-Thrift Store at 1 Geylang Lorong 23, Singapore 388352, or you can check the website or call 6747-0935 (Hi-Thrift Store) and 6440-2444 (Rag & Bone).