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TAKING HEART

Ernst & Young employees cook up a storm to raise funds for SPD

They organised a lunch bazaar, selling homemade meals to fellow colleagues, for the firm's adopted charity

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Ernst & Young's Project Joy Café on May 2 saw employees put their cooking skills to the test, selling homemade meals to fellow colleagues in an effort to raise money for SPD.

Singapore

STAFF engagement is still key for Ernst & Young whenever it undertakes corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This has seen the professional services firm through a variety of initiatives centering on underprivileged groups in Singapore.

And Ernst & Young's Project Joy Café is no different. The lunch bazaar on May 2 saw employees put their cooking skills to the test, selling homemade meals to fellow colleagues in an effort to raise money for SPD, the event's adopted voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) for 2018.

Ernst & Young corporate responsibility committee chairman Panneer Selvam told The Business Times: "Project Joy started as a tax department initiative in 2010, where breakfast meals were bought and marked up, with the difference donated to charities including Club Rainbow and Bone Marrow Donor Programme.

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"We received strong interest from our colleagues in other departments, who had wanted to be a part of it, so last year we made it a company-wide event."

In the lead-up to Project Joy Café, three food-themed events - where desserts and local snacks were sold - were organised in April, and their profits donated to SPD.

In all, Ernst & Young's efforts for Project Joy earned S$6,000 for the VMO that supports individuals with physical, sensory and developmental disabilities.

Ernst & Young has also worked with long-term partners like The Boys' Brigade, where employees were involved in the brigade's Share-A-Gift initiative.

Mr Selvam said: "We have been involved for the past 12 years and it remains one of our flagship events. Our employees are involved in the entire process - purchasing, wrapping and delivering the wishes to beneficiaries - and have fulfilled 200 wishes and given out 250 hampers to needy families."

Another of Ernst & Young's initiatives is its participation in Walk For Rice since 2012. Organised by South East Community Development Council and NTUC FairPrice, one bowl of rice is donated by the local grocer to needy residents in the South East District for every 100 metres completed by a participant.

In last year's drive, held in November, the total distance covered Ernst & Young employees was about 250,000 metres, or 50,000 bowls of rice for beneficiaries at Bedok Radient Centre.

On top of staff participation, both junior and senior employees are involved in organising community-driven initiatives.

Charles Leong, an associate at Ernst & Young Corporate Finance, expressed his interest in organising one a blood donation drive.

Mr Selvam said: "He noticed that we did not organise an internal blood donation drive, so we took him on board the CSR committee to organise it."

Mr Leong, a second-year associate, added: "Organising the blood donation drive across the firm was not easy. It takes up significant amounts of time and effort, which can be a challenge especially with our busy work schedules." Despite the challenges, he received strong support from other teams across Ernst & Young, which helped in coordinating the event. Plans are now in place for the drive to be a yearly affair.

Ernst & Young aims to round out the second half of the year with a number of community-driven initiatives, one of which will be a collaboration with social enterprises to sell items such as handicraft at an Ernst & Young Christmas bazaar in November.