Singapore is well-served by numerous charitable organisations, agencies, and well-intentioned donors — but in recent times, the efficacy of their approach has been put into the spotlight. The issue of “thoughtless giving” became a hot topic last year, after an elderly man was found to have hundreds of expired instant noodle packets and over 50 bottles of soya sauce in his home — simply because he didn’t cook.
Enter Project Stable Staples. Created in April this year — just a week before the circuit breaker came into effect — the Project’s premise is overwhelmingly simple: through donations, they provide NTUC FairPrice vouchers to beneficiaries, allowing them to select what they best need — a mother-of-two can purchase adult diapers for her elderly father, and a pregnant mother can finally buy that small bar of chocolate she’s been desperately craving for.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all care pack,” says the team behind Project Stable Staples, who add that a typical household of 5 members will receive $50 in NTUC vouchers for 2 weeks. “Also, it’s more empowering for families to be able to choose what groceries to buy.”
By mailing vouchers to their beneficiaries, Project Stable Staples managed to provide help to close to 600 disadvantaged families across the island, even during the circuit breaker.
The Project was also recently named a grantee of the Temasek Trust’s $10 million oscar@sg fund, which supports ground-up initiatives that help urgent community needs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With just 8 core members, the initiative keeps its operations lean. It was, after all, how the project began: project lead Francesca Wah had been visiting rental blocks back in February to see how she could help — she later reached out to a friend, David Hoe, to see what they could do, and the rest was history.
As members of the Project explain, they don’t want to denigrate the good work that Singapore’s many charities do: they just want to provide a little extra help to those who need it during uncertain times.
“For our beneficiaries, some of them lost their part-time jobs, which supplemented their ComCare support,” say members from the Project. “And with more time at home, there’s also increased expenditure on utilities — so while much has been done to help the vulnerable, there are still gaps in the community where we can step forward to help out.”
To date, Project Stable Staples has raised over $160,000. But the team doesn’t want to stop at just distributing grocery vouchers. They say that in the “second phase” of Project Stable Staples, they aim to help their beneficiaries find steady jobs, and to connect them to good employers — and beyond that, help them tide through the pandemic comfortably.
Founder David Hoe recounts a beneficiary who had been placed on unpaid leave during the circuit breaker, and whose family was forced to eat nothing but white rice every day; even ikan bilis was considered a luxury.
“Aside from the vouchers, we pooled some personal money to buy the family a few nice meals on both Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa,” say the team.
“It wasn’t much, but we were just glad we managed to make the period a little better for them.”