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Spreading cheer with bags of 'blessings'

Staff from Standard Chartered joined other volunteers in packing and delivering festive bags to the needy.

Standard Chartered Bank staff (above) preparing some of the 6,000 festive bags to be given to the needy. Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee joined volunteers in distributing the bags around Singapore.

Standard Chartered Bank staff preparing some of the 6,000 festive bags to be given to the needy. Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee (above) joined volunteers in distributing the bags around Singapore.


CHINESE New Year is drawing to a close, but the items that single mum Ang Lian Kim received in her festive bag will last her beyond the festive season.

She works as a warehouse operator to support her three sons. The 54-year-old says the food items in the festive bag, which include sardines, instant noodles, and Chinese New Year snacks, help her family save quite a bit every year.

Madam Ang says: "The money (I earn) is sometimes not enough, and the items in the bags help me get through a period of time, especially if there is rice and oil."

Over 6,000 fu dai, or "bags of blessings", for seniors and families in need were packed by around 1,300 corporate, individual and secondary school student volunteers over two days.

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They were then delivered islandwide on Jan 11 by several Members of Parliament with Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, leading the efforts, and corporate volunteers from companies such as Standard Chartered Bank and Raffles Hotel.

The event, themed Home: For The Community, By The Community, was organised by Community Chest - the fundraising and engagement arm of the National Council of Social Service - and volunteer group Heartwarmers.

Foo Say Thye, chairman of Community Chest Fu Dai 2020 organising committee, says: "The fu dai initiative has always been a great opportunity for the community at large to come together to care and share for those in need. I am especially heartened to have the student and senior volunteers join us this year, as they represent Community Chest's ongoing efforts in engaging the wider community to build an inclusive society for all."

Che Ah Kau, one of the senior volunteers from Young-At-Heart - the parent company of which is Montfort Care - led a workout session on Saturday morning before the volunteers set out to deliver the fu dai.

The peppy 73-year-old says it was his first time taking part in the Community Chest Fu Dai, although he has been volunteering on a regular basis at other events.

He says: "I retired from being a hawker about 10 years ago, and I find volunteering very meaningful as I can bring joy to others, and I am happy too."

Encouraging volunteers

Standard Chartered Bank is a long-time supporter of this event, and has not only sponsored items for the fu dai, but also rallied staff to participate.

Anish Thomas, business lead in bancassurance team, is a volunteer. The 37-year-old says: "I was helping with the packing. I am not doing the delivery as there may be a bit of language barrier as I do not speak Mandarin. But I help out where I can."

He has been volunteering for six years and says Standard Chartered bank has a good policy of encouraging the practice.

"StanChart's motto is 'here for good'. It is a good feeling to be working for a bank where they have such expectations and it proves that it is not all about business."

Patrick Lee, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore, says the bank has been supporting this event since 2009.

He says such events benefit the community; and the bank, being in Singapore for 160 years, is part of the fabric of society.

Standard Chartered gives its staff three days of volunteer leave, and the event saw hundreds of its staff banding together and taking charge of various aspects to ensure that the beneficiaries get the bags.

Mr Lee says: "It ties back to sustainability. This event was introduced by one of our staff in 2009 who volunteers at Heartwarmers, and the idea spread among our staff."

He says giving back "can help your brand and community, by creating this platform where different parties can come together to give".

Community Chest chairman Phillip Tan says: "Community Chest Fu Dai aims to bring together people from all walks of life to give back to the community in their own ways - whether through donations or volunteering for the packing and delivering of festive bags.

"Over the years, we have engaged not only corporate and individual volunteers, but also student volunteers and even service users themselves to give back. This spirit of selfless giving, regardless of abilities, is something we hope to cultivate and instil in every person to help build an inclusive society for all.

"With the changing needs in society, we also need strong participation and support from our volunteers to help bring fu dai to the next level. We plan to do this by working closely with our corporate, community and school partners to find new and meaningful ways for them to give back.

"In turn, we hope this will empower them to step up their own fundraising and volunteering efforts for Community Chest. The multiplier effect of this will be invaluable towards cultivating a culture of giving in Singapore."

  • This article is part of a series on doing good for our community, supported by Standard Chartered Bank

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