A group of individuals take time out of their busy schedules to make a difference in the lives of others.
Contributed By Leon Phoon and BP Lim
A group of ordinary people—working professionals, businesspeople and housewives—have started a socially responsible initiative to do their part for the community. They belong to a cell group in City Harvest Church known as W177. Since January 2010, this group of individuals has collaborated with non-profit organization, Food From The Heart (see box story), to organize charity food donation drives, birthday programs for underprivileged children, the delivery of bread to old folks’ homes and rehabilitation centers, as well as packing non-perishable food items in warehouses.
FOOD DONATION DRIVE
In a charity food drive known as Food For A Cause, the group set out on Mar. 26 and Sep. 24 to help 2,800 needy students, individuals and families in Singapore by collecting non-perishable food items such as canned food, noodles, beverages, cooking oil, rice, biscuits, etc.
BIRTHDAY FROM THE HEART PROGRAM
For many of the children placed in children’s homes by court order, they do not know the joy of having a celebration held in honor of their birthdays.
A total of eight members of the cell group , namely, Meryne Chia, Justina Chua, Kelly Ng, Gloria Chan, Stella Chee, Iris Ho, Kelly Cheong and BP Lim, took time out each month on a Monday, volunteering to spend time with some of these children at Haven’s Children’s Home and celebrating birthdays with them. Presents for the respective birthday child of the month were provided by FFTH as part of their Toys From The Heart Program.
On June 21, the team organized a big surprise birthday party at a private swimming pool. For the first time since they had been staying in the home, the children were able to have their birthday celebrations at an outside venue. Among some of the invited guests included the founders of FFTH—Henry and Christine Laimer, some key staff from FFTH, as well as the cell group’s pastoral overseer, Andreas and Marie Skogvard, both zone supervisors in CHC.
This program involves the collection and distribution of unsold bread from bakeries and hotels with the help of 1,700 active volunteers on a daily basis, distributing up to an average amount of 16,000 kg of bread per month. The beneficiaries include residents from 100 welfare homes and needy families. A total of 11,000 individuals benefit from this program each month.
Some of the cell group members who own vehicles felt that they could maximize the utilization of their vehicles to do something meaningful in life. As such, they enrolled themselves into this program.
UNPACKING AND PACKING
|PHOTO COURTESY OF LEON PHOON & BP LIM|
Many of the cell group members have contributed their effort and time in FFTH’s warehouse, in the important and arduous task of unpacking non-perishable food items that have been collected during food drives. After unpacking, they also have to itemize each of the items and repack them for distribution to needy families in Singapore.
In today’s society, a common refrain one hears is, “there is never enough time.” Yet, these individuals have gone against the norm and made time to do what counts, that is, making a difference in the lives of others.
“It’s very heart-warming to see the community come together to help the needy families and having a group of people who are passionate rendering this help,” said Mun Loon, CIP: Food Drive for Needy Families, FFTH.
About Food From The Heart
Food From The Heart started with the Bread Distribution Programme in February 2003, and has been channeling unsold bread from bakeries and hotels to welfare organizations, needy families and individuals since then.
Today, free bread is being delivered to 120 welfare homes, and more than 5,500 needy individuals directly (under the Self Collection Centre Programme and Food Goodie Bag Programme).
FFTH was set up as a business model, with an emphasis on professionalism, efficiency and transparency. FFTH received the Outstanding New Initiative Award by National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre in November 2004 at the Istana. On top of that, founder Christine Laimer was awarded the International Woman of the Year 2006/2007 by the American Women Association.
With the infrastructure and network established (they have an office in Goldhill Centre with nine staff, one warehouse facility, two delivery vans and two drivers), FFTH has expanded its programs to benefit more families.
For more information, please log on to www.foodheart.org
What members of W177 say about their community project
“I do it because I see all these needy people on the street … even though they are very old, nobody seems to care for them. What we are doing can help to make their lives better.”
Joel Phoon, 10, student
“I want to thank God for helping the group to ‘gel’ together to make this community project a successful one.”
Dorothy Loo, 59, housewife
“It’s very fulfilling as it really comes from the heart.”
Sharon Wong, 41, administrative assistant
“I’m heartened to see the generosity of each one.”
Kelly Ng, 39, business person
“We can make others happy with just a little time that we contribute.”
Gloria Chan, 28, sales and marketing manager