There’s more to doing good this festive season than signing off on a cheque donation (and claiming tax rebates). Here’s how you can contribute in every little way.
01 | Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD)
WHAT IT IS This non-profit, established in 2000, has always been about improving the welfare of stray and abandoned dogs, with a no-kill policy.
HOW YOU CAN HELP For as little as $35 a month, sponsor a dog’s boarding fees, food costs and medical expenses. You can also visit and bond with your canine beneficiary. Or do your part with art: ASD welcomes volunteers with a flair for illustrating and painting to contribute designs for their fund-raising merch.
WHERE TO START asdsingapore.com
02 | Children’s Wishing Well
WHAT Since 2002, it’s been supporting the educational and daily living needs of children and youth from disadvantaged backgrounds whose parents may be ill, in jail or absent from their lives. Children’s Wishing Well also equips the kids with skills for the future.
HOW Companies can host Career GPS sessions for upper-and post-secondary school students to encourage them to work towards their career goals. Job internships and mentorships are welcome too. Children’s Wishing Well also has the FRESH initiative: Besides packing and delivering fresh groceries to homes, volunteers take kids from low-income families on fortnightly supermarket trips where they can shop with a given budget. Through these trips, the children learn to choose nutritious and value-for-money food, even as they hone their decision-making skills.
03 | Community Chest
WHAT The charity mothership has been around since 1983, supporting about 80 social service agencies in Singapore that assist groups such as families in need, adults with disabilities and vulnerable seniors.
HOW For the first time, Community Chest is partnering e-commerce giant Lazada in its Add A New Story campaign. On the site, three short films highlight how your donation can help empower six individuals. Then, instead of making more material purchases that you don’t really need, buy a service for someone in need instead. You can purchase these in varying denominations — from $15 to $100. For instance, $30 can pay for two hours of education for a child with special needs or two weeks of befriending services for a vulnerable senior. Even better, tell your family and friends that you will be purchasing these on their behalf as Christmas gifts instead of the usual glass ornaments, self-help books and six-pack cartoon-print socks that nobody really cares for anyway.
04 | Babes
WHAT Launched in 2005, this programme supports teenagers with unplanned pregnancies.
HOW Besides contributing milk powder, diapers, prams, strollers and pre-loved babies’ clothing, you can share your professional skills and tutor its clients in Math, organise fund-raising events, copywrite publicity materials and even provide professional advice on IT or HR practices.
05 | Food From The Heart
WHAT This charity is known for its food distribution programmes that feed the less fortunate. One of its signature programmes, Bread Run, links up businesses, volunteers and community groups to distribute safe-for-consumption bread that would otherwise be discarded by hotels, cafes, bakeries, supermarkets and restaurants at the end of each business day. Bread Run supposedly salvages about 1,350 supermarket trolleys worth of bread each month.
HOW If you own or manage an F&B business, work with Food from the Heart to donate bread and other food items. The charity is also seeking volunteers to pick up and sort out food donations.
06 | HCA Hospice Care
WHAT Singapore’s largest home hospice care provider runs a core home hospice care for nearly 3,600 patients annually. Medical care for patients is provided at no charge, plus patients and caregivers receive psychological support. A 24-hour hotline is also available.
HOW If you are trained in hairstyling, makeup and photography, help patients’ fulfill their wishes for family portraits. HCA also needs Medi Minders to care for children or young adults with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions so their caregivers can take a break, run errands or look after their other kids. Medi Minders may supervise their young charges, offer companionship, read to them, even provide basic nursing care.
07 | Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)
WHAT Its predecessor was set up in 1962 and today, MINDS, one of the largest voluntary welfare organisations in Singapore, continues its work advancing the development, well-being and aspirations of persons with intellectual disabilities, and helping them integrate into society.
HOW Under MINDS Contract, companies can offer jobs; MINDS training officers and occupational therapists will assess if these are suitable for their clients before breaking down the work process into easy-to-achieve tasks. Or you can engage MINDS Perform, a performing arts group, for your corporate events. If you are shopping for corporate gifts, work with MINDS Bakers for customised goodies like lemon chia seed cookies, nuts and dried fruit packs, and jelly candies. Car owners can also pop by the SPC Petrol Station along Telok Blangah Road to have their vehicles hand-washed by MINDS Wash clients.
08 | It’s Raining Raincoats
WHAT Founded in 2015, this initiative aims to spread kindness to migrant workers here. And It’s Raining Raincoats does this in myriad ways: it has sought Christmas gifts (suggestions include “humble” basics like Tiger Balm ointments, caps, umbrellas and prepaid SIM cards), got volunteers to distribute pizzas to work sites during Deepavali and, more recently, raised $158,000 for the family of foreign worker Muthaiyan Velmurugan, who died in a worksite accident.
HOW Follow its Facebook page for alerts on events and activities, some tied to festive occasions. For instance, it is looking for volunteers whose homes can be used as gift collection points for Christmas. It also puts out calls for drivers to help to distribute food and gifts to worksites across Singapore.
09 | Nature Society Singapore (NSS)
WHAT Saving the environment isn’t some new-fangled, hipster thing to do. Just ask the guys here. They have been promoting an awareness of and an appreciation for Mother Nature as well as advocating the conservation of Singapore’s natural environment since 1991 (in fact, NSS was formerly the Singapore outpost of the Malayan Nature Society all the way back in 1954!).
HOW Once a month, NSS organises activities to Mandai to save the horseshoe crabs, which have been around for over 300 million years and are believed to be older than dinosaurs (now you know!). Volunteers are trained to measure the crustaceans’ length, identify the gender and breeding status, record data before releasing them back into the mangroves.
10 | Rare Disease Fund (RDF)
WHAT Part of SingHealth Fund, it is supported by the Ministry of Health and managed by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Health Fund. RDF provides long-term financial support for patients with rare diseases who require costly medicines (startling reality: some cost over $200,000 a year). According to KKH, there are more than 7,000 types of rare diseases in the world, including primary bile acid synthesis disorder and Gaucher disease. About 2,000 to 3,000 people in Singapore are estimated to have a rare disease, of which an estimated 700 are young children.
HOW It’s as simple as subscribing to this very magazine that you are reading right now. In return, you’ll get 10 print and digital issues for $100. A Magazine will then donate the entire sum in your name to RDF. For every dollar of public donation, the Singapore government will contribute $3.
11 | Willing Hearts
WHAT Every day, the Willing Hearts soup kitchen crew preps, whips up and distributes about 5,000 meals to low-income families, children from single-parent families, the elderly, the disabled, migrant workers and pretty much anyone who appreciates a freshly cooked meal. In addition, it provides dental and optical care, legal aid, primary school tuition and bereavement services.
HOW From as early as 5am every day, join the volunteers at the various stations in the kitchen, where you can help chop vegetables, pack lunch boxes, wash up and clean the kitchen. Parents can rope in their young children (but under supervision) to help with simple tasks like sticking labels on lunch boxes.
12 | The Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP)
WHAT It engages the community in giving ex-offenders a second chance at life.
HOW If you run or own a company, post job vacancies at orms.sps.gov.sg. You can also work with YRP and the Visual Arts Hub, a rehabilitation workshop that runs courses by trainers from LaSalle and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, to commission art pieces for corporate events or office decor. You can also buy paintings and ceramics on its website.
13 | The T Project
WHAT An independent community initiative, the social service supports the transgender community. For instance, it runs a shelter for those who are homeless and also provides referral assistance to serve residents’ employment, social, healthcare and emotional needs; volunteer social workers and counsellors are also on hand to offer counselling services.
HOW Donors are “rewarded” here instead. Depending on how much you donate, you get specially designed The T Project rewards like stickers, T-shirts and coffeetable books through its innovative rewards tier system.
14 | Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
WHAT Since 1980, this has been the coordinating body for women’s organisations in Singapore. It now represents more than 50 member organisations, working towards a society that allows women “equal space, equal voice and equal worth”.
HOW The SCWO runs a New2U Thrift Shop on its premises, where you can help out on a weekly basis. Its IT Hub, which teaches basic computer skills, also seeks volunteers who are savvy with the internet, email and Microsoft programmes to conduct a three-hour class once a week.
15 | TOUCH Home Care (THC)
WHAT Part of Touch Community Services, THC helps the frail and homebound elderly function within the community as independently as they can. To do this, THC provides meal delivery, medical, home nursing, housekeeping and transport services.
HOW Drivers with flexible work schedules can help with the Meals-On-Wheels service (especially for weekday slots). Your task? Pick up pre-packed meals from the THC office and deliver them to the elderly, who usually live alone and depend on volunteers for their daily meals. You can choose to be a driver, or if you don’t have a car or a driving licence, partner a driver and be a runner.