A colleague got in touch with her university for some community service opportunities – that’s how about 10 of us in the department got roped in to help with Groceries on Wheels. The hat was also passed around the whole department, to help fund the groceries that were purchased and packed by the NUS bunch, in collaboration with some Voluntary Welfare Organisations.
|Bright yellow bags|
Here’s part of the contingent. The yellow striped bag you see contained the “groceries” that we were asked to distribute to a block of rental units in the Northeast. The occupants were all Public Assistance recipients, and thus duly identified as those in need, since it IS really not easy to qualify for PA in Singapore.
Peeped into the bags, and saw that the contents were well-considered. They were so heavy, containing cooking oil in addition to the usual food items. There was also a big can of Baygon, washing detergent and a sponge (looked like the real good quality 3M ScotchBrite – cool). The value per bag was supposed to be $20, but think the cost price was probably also subsidised by the supermarket suppliers. It felt like a true multi-party effort, which was nice.
I asked if I could bring the girls, since I felt that no one is ever too young to be exposed to community service. B became particularly enthusiastic at knocking on the doors – I had to stop her from re-knocking on the same door after we had delivered to that family!
I tried to explain to K the night before where we were going, and in the morning when her daddy asked her, she said “We are going to give food to old people”. Must say I was mighty pleased, and her dad was totally surprised since he wasn’t aware that I had already given her a run-through.
It was truly a morning well spent. We also brought a bag of toys to give away. The doors we were allocated to knock on didn’t have any families with children. But I asked the others whether they came across children, and one colleague did! So she brought us to find that family, and the two kids aged 5 and 4 were elated to receive our toys.
The excitement (“Ben 10!” exclaimed the boy as he reached out for it. I asked “who likes big bird?” the girl said “ME!!!!” *phew*) and beams were both a joy and a relief. There was a part of me that didn’t know how they would react, whether the toys might not seem good enough, or something that they liked in the first place etc etc.
Their mum who was hanging washing out in the corridor was also most friendly and gracious. She thanked us warmly (which mother doesn’t love seeing her children light up with joy) and even asked if we lived here! I felt quite gratified that we blended in so well! (Yes my default non-work get-up is the ubiquitous Singaporean uniform of tee and shorts.) On hindsight, it’s also quite a National Day feeling – to help your fellow country man, in a very practical concrete way.
As for involving K & B, not only was it a good way of introducing them to caring for the less fortunate, it was also a great ice-breaker when we met the folks. Even an elderly lady who took a long time to decide to open the door to us, melted into a smile when B waved her 1.5 year old guileless wave at her.
We didn’t actually do much, just distributed some bags of groceries, but it was the most meaningful Saturday morning I’ve had in a long time, and a form of faith in action that I should really commit to more often.
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.