Time to celebrate, time to lend a hand

Don’t be surprised if someone comes knocking on your door to ask for some rice this weekend.

Volunteers from Red Cross Youth are looking to collect 80,000kg of rice in a drive called Project Rice, to fill the bowls of the needy in time for the traditional Chinese reunion dinner in about a week’s time.

These good Samaritans are among a growing number of Singaporeans giving their time to help the less fortunate.

In fact, volunteerism rates here are at an all-time high, according to the results of a survey, conducted by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and released yesterday.

The Individual Giving Survey, which is conducted every two years, found that one in three people, or 32.3 per cent of the 1,512 people polled, said they had volunteered in the past 12 months. The survey was conducted between July and September.

This is the highest proportion of volunteers since the survey was first conducted in 2000. The previous record was 23.3 per cent in 2010.

NVPC chief executive Laurence Lien said: “The rise in the number of people volunteering is heartening. It shows that Singapore is becoming a more compassionate society.”

The NVPC’s findings are in contrast to the World Giving Index published by the Charities Aid Foundation, which showed that 8 per cent of those polled here said they had volunteered, down from 11 per cent in 2011.

Mr Kevin Lee, an NVPC director, said the results of both surveys are not comparable, as different definitions were used.

For instance, the period of giving covered in the NVPC survey was the past 12 months, while the worldwide survey covered that for one month.

While volunteering happens throughout the year, Mr Lien said it is common for people to spread festive cheer by doing good during special occasions, such as Christmas or the Chinese New Year.

My Paper found at least eight groups doing their bit as the Chinese New Year approaches.

Having a plentiful reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve is an important custom not to be missed, said Ms Giscille Chen, co-director of Project Rice, which is into its third run this year.
“Rice is a staple food for Asians. We want to make sure the needy can enjoy a full meal,” said Ms Chen, a Singapore Management University accountancy undergraduate.

About 900 student volunteers will visit 600 Housing Board blocks islandwide to collect rice from residents.

The rice will go to more than 20,000 beneficiaries, such as hospice patients and the poor.

Other volunteers are also doing their part, offering haircuts or help with spring cleaning, in line with the belief that starting the Chinese New Year afresh will bring good luck.

Hairstylists from Kimrobinson decided to help out by giving free haircuts at the Ren Ci Nursing Home last Tuesday.

The hairstylists from the Orchard Road salon had already been giving free haircuts on their own time for various charitable causes.

But last week was the first time they did it as a team.

At the nursing home in Jalan Tan Tock Seng, 10 hairstylists worked their magic, meticulously snipping the hair of 120 elderly residents and 30 nurses.

For volunteers like Ms Ariel Chow, 34, the smiles on the faces of those she helps is what spurs the senior radiographer at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to give her time.

For the past three years, she had signed up for SGH’s annual Project Groomover to spruce up the homes of needy seniors for the Chinese New Year.

This year was no exception for her. Along with 270 volunteers from SGH, other health-care institutions and schools, they cleaned 28 homes in Henderson and Bukit Merah.

The volunteers scrubbed toilets, cleared clutter and applied fresh coats of paint to peeling walls on their days off.

Ms Chow said: “I understand that many of us are busy with work and family commitments. But it’s possible to make time for charity.”

Source: My Paper