Christmas with a youthful difference

Tomorrow, three youths will spend their Christmas giving out 250 homemade cupcakes to tissue sellers at train stations.

Another group of youths will be part of an initiative to thank bus and taxi drivers for plying the roads over the holiday, while 70 undergraduates spent last weekend performing Christmas songs in sign language to raise greater awareness of the deaf community.

From distributing gifts to fund-raisers and public performances, the youth are using this festive holiday season to spread some good cheer across the island. As Mr Sirbest Wong, one of the three final-year students at Singapore Polytechnic who will be giving out cupcakes, says: “We (want) to let them know that there is somebody in society who is thinking about them.”

Remembering the less fortunate

The trio, who were sponsored the ingredients, will bake the low-sugar chocolate and banana cupcakes tomorrow and make their way to 27 train stations along the North South Line to distribute them.

Recalling a conversation with a woman who was selling tissue packets at an MRT station, one of the SP students, Miss Abigail Tan, said: “She is handicapped and her children don’t want to take care of her. It’s people like that who make me feel very blessed.”

Other young people are also doing their part for the less fortunate.

On Saturday, about 60 students from the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London programme will be throwing a “Superheroes” Christmas party for 35 athletes of Special Olympics Singapore.

Yesterday, the National University of Singapore Pharmaceutical Society visited the Society for the Aged Sick to help manage their medication and spend time with the elderly, in hopes of bringing some “festive fun and joy to them”. Earlier this month, four Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduates raised S$3,000 for Dover Park Hospice through a latte art competition held at a cafe on campus.

Some youths have even travelled to Russia – under a programme by AIESEC, an international student-run organisation – to celebrate Christmas with children in 30 orphanages. There, they will plan Christmas performances, prepare traditional Christmas dishes and more.

Meeting needs

Over the past three days, 70 Nanyang Technological University undergraduates performed Christmas hits using sign language at shopping malls.

Pointing to the lack of sign language interpreters in Singapore, second-year accountancy student Quek Sheng Quan, who led the annual event, said: “If each performance can attract one or two people to take up sign language it will be good enough. Minute steps will lead to something big eventually.”

And as the need for donated blood spikes during the holiday season with donors going on holiday, the SMU Red Cross Youth Chapter held its annual blood donation drive over the first two weekends of this month.

“It was difficult to rope in volunteers because of the exam and holiday period. The rainy weather restricted our efforts to spread awareness of our campaign and we can’t distribute flyers freely in shopping malls,” said student leader Chua Hui Ying. But the students’ perseverance paid off: They collected 500 to 600 bags of blood this year, compared to 450 last year.

At Ngee Ann Polytechnic, students raised S$8,000 and collected up to 250 canned food items for the Boys’ Brigade Share-a-Gift programme last month, and later distributed hampers to needy residents.

Giving thanks

Several young Singaporeans have also helped organise an initiative to thank public transport operators for working on Christmas. This is the second event under the StandUpFor.SG movement, organised by nine Singaporeans between the ages of 19 and 40.

On Christmas Day, about 300 volunteers will head to bus stops and taxi queues in seven locations, such as Orchard Road, Yishun and Ang Mo Kio. Armed with postcards and pens, they will encourage commuters to write encouraging notes to bus and taxi drivers, which can then be given to the driver when they board the bus or taxi.

Miss Lee Liwen, 19, who is helping with the logistics, said: “I joined this event because I’ve seen … how acknowledgement fuels people. This Christmas, I’m joining the event as a volunteer to start being grateful to the people we take for granted.”

Source: TODAY