Five hundred RAYZ volunteers and special needs students gathered to have some hong bao fun during Chinese New Year.
Contributed by Joey Lim
RAYZ’s Hong Bao Party on Feb. 5 saw a group of over 500 volunteers and special needs students gathering to usher in the Year of the Dragon. RAYZ is a community arm of City Harvest Community Services Association that caters to individuals with special needs.
The party got off to a rousing start as the hosts gave out angpows to those students who the answers right to simple questions like, “What fruit do you bring when you visit your relatives during the Chinese New Year?”
The atmosphere grew rowdy as students started playing Chinese New Year games. Their first challenge—Count Your Angpows—got the crowd roaring as the contestants on stage grabbed hong baos which filled with money, tore them open one by one to gather as much money as they could.
In the next game, Orange Peel!, contestants went up stage to face the challenge of peeling as many mandarin oranges as they could in the given amount of time. The citrus fragrance filled the auditorium, adding to the festive mood.
To thank and celebrate RAYZ’s tireless volunteers who had worked hard all of last year, the organizers set up a lucky dip just for them. RAYZ manager, Lily Yong, picked out two winners—Yanni Lin and Justin Lee—and presented them with huge hampers.
The exuberant crowd soon quietened down as a heartwarming video on family and love was played. The video showed how three children came to realize the unconditional love that their father had shown towards them since they were little, and they decided to be home for the family’s reunion dinner.
“Indeed, the true meaning of Chinese New Year is not about hong baos or eating goodies, but about coming together as a family in reunion or tuan yuan in Chinese,” said Adiel Choy, an administrator at RAYZ, to the students. She explained that to tuan (which means “gather” in Chinese), members of the family must make a decision to spend time together even when they are busy, to yuan (which means “united”) they must always maintain strong ties with each another, and to foster unity and harmony in all relationships, there must always be love and forgiveness in the hearts of everyone in the family.
The students clapped their hands loudly in agreement at the end of the short sharing. Yong then invited all the volunteers up on stage for the traditional tossing or lo hei, and all celebrated the start of the Dragon year with well-wishes.
“It’s a great experience and an eye-opener for me. I was deeply impacted by how the students responded so spontaneously towards each segment. I totally enjoyed myself!” said Sheila Lau, a first-time RAYZ volunteer.
The party brought smiles and merriment to all the students, who made their way home with a chocolate-filled red packet each.