Bringing Love in Every Grain: PROJECT R.I.C.E 2013

After a two-year hiatus, PROJECT R.I.C.E 2013 came back surpassing expectations. Themed ‘Love In Every Grain’, Project R.I.C.E 2013 collected 111,813kg of rice for beneficiaries, bringing them some festive joy during the Lunar New Year. Spearheaded by Red Cross Youth – SMU Chapter, Project R.I.C.E 2013 was made possible with the help and support of some 900 youth volunteers and Sheng Siong Supermarket.

Early Stages

PROJECT R.I.C.E first began on a smaller scale in 2008. At that time, student volunteers from Children At-Risk Empowerment (CARE) organisation and Singapore Management University (SMU) helped. See Hoy Chan (1988) Pte Ltd then matched the rice collection. A total of 1,460kg of rice was collected in 2008, more than double the 600kg target. Following the overwhelming response from the public and media publicity in Channel 8 news and Lianhe Wanbao, Project R.I.C.E developed into larger scale projects in 2009. In 2009, 40,715kg of rice was collected, far exceeding the targeted amount of 30,000kg.

Mechanics of Project R.I.C.E 2013

This year, there were two channels through which the public was encouraged to donate rice; by buying rice vouchers at Sheng Siong Supermarket, and when volunteers came knocking on their door on 2 Feb.

On 12 January, Edmund Chen, Goodwill Ambassador of Singapore Red Cross, showed his support by making a special appearance at the Sheng Siong Supermarket’s Bedok outlet. He was warmly welcomed by the volunteers, shoppers and staff of Sheng Siong.

Through January, rice vouchers were sold at all 33 Sheng Siong Supermarket outlets, at a special price of S$6.90 for 5kg of Fragrant Jasmine rice. Hundreds of Red Cross Youth Chapter volunteers mobilised themselves over two weekends at the supermarkets. They promoted the project and encouraged shoppers to support the cause.

“We are honoured to be part of this meaningful project. Project R.I.C.E 2013 has been very successful in its nationwide rice donation drive. This shows our people’s warmth and eagerness to contribute for a good cause. Their kindness and compassion are commendable,” said Mr Lim Hock Chee, Chief Executive Officer of Sheng Siong Group Ltd.

In addition, the youth volunteers worked tirelessly to knock on the doors of hundreds of households on 19 January, explaining the objectives of the project and encouraging residents to get involved by donating sealed bags of rice weighing from 500g to 10kg. Two weeks later on 2 February, the volunteers came back to these households to collect rice. They were then distributed to beneficiaries from 92 welfare organisations.

Cheng Beng Buddhist Association was one of the beneficiary organisations. The staff of Cheng Beng Buddhist Association, Ms Tan Lay Eng shared about her thoughts on the initiative, “Project R.I.C.E 2013 is a really good initiative because it has a wide outreach and can help many people. The project has[s1] helped our organisation reduce expenses because we cater free food to the needy regardless of religions on Sundays. I want to say a big thank you to all the donors for their generosity.”

Factors contributing to the success of Project R.I.C.E 2013

With 111,813kg of rice collected for beneficiaries, this has been the most successful Project R.I.C.E thus far. The generosity and support of the public has once again helped Project R.I.C.E 2013 to not only surpass the targeted collection, but also benefit more beneficiaries this time round.

The nationwide publicity, collection and distribution drive of Project R.I.C.E 2013 were collective efforts of many volunteers. Red Cross Youth – Chapter volunteers from Anderson Junior College, ITE College East, Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Raffles Junior College, Singapore Management University and Singapore Polytechnic all stepped up to the challenge. They set aside time amidst their hectic school schedules to help generate public awareness, solicit donors via door-to-door collection and to distribute the rice.

Ms Giscille Chen, a student leader from Red Cross Youth – SMU Chapter, was one of the many who worked for months on Project R.I.C.E 2013. Ms Chen participated in countless meetings for the planning, execution and closure of the project in between her lectures and extra-curricular activities. She explained, “We actually started planning for Project R.I.C.E 2013 since April last year. We did the proposal and the recruitment of the organising committee. While all this work could be tiring at times, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the project. I am also truly thankful for having met so many generous donors who expressed their enthusiasm towards this worthy cause and contributed so passionately”.

Her attitude mirrors what Project R.I.C.E 2013 hopes to achieve which is interestingly formed by the acronym ‘RICE’.

Reach out and give a helping hand,

Inculcate compassion and empathy among the volunteers,

Care and concern for the needy, and

Encourage Volunteerism

Besides volunteers, Sheng Siong Supermarket also played a significant role in contributing to the success of Project R.I.C.E 2013 with the sale of rice vouchers. This is not the first time that Sheng Siong has partnered Singapore Red Cross for Project R.I.C.E. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheng Siong Supermarket for partnering us in this meaningful project over the years.

Another key factor that contributed to the success of Project R.I.C.E 2013 was the good media coverage in AsiaOne, Capital 958, Lianhe Zaobao, My Paper, The Straits Times, TODAY, and Warna Radio.

Many people and organisations came together to make Project R.I.C.E 2013 a success. They brought ‘Love in Every Grain’ to the beneficiaries by giving of themselves as reflected by the acronym ‘RICE’; reaching out to help those in need, inculcating compassion and empathy, caring and being concerned for the needy and encouraging volunteerism

Source: Patricia Lau, Volunteer, Singapore Red Cross