The 2020 COVID-19 pill has been a tough one to swallow for everyone around the world. Life has changed for many people as it has affected our interactions and the way we live our lives. Fortunately, the need to protect each other through staying indoors has reminded us of one important thing. We live in and form part of a community.
With this, we are reminded that we are responsible for each other, and should take care and consideration in our actions to make sure no harm is caused to people in our community. This requires positive effort to help people that are less fortunate than ourselves.
During this period, we can ask ourselves, how can we give back? For us that are privileged in networks, time, and resources, how can we use these to create a positive impact in someone’s life that may have less support than ourselves?
Consider these pointers to help you decide how you can volunteer your time, your family or children’s time or resources to a cause that needs it more during this challenging year!
If causes drive you, one of the first things you can do is figure out what causes are important to you that require attention.
If you have no idea, ask yourself or members of your family some questions. This can begin with – what communities/persons are most in need right now in Singapore? What is the age range of the person you would like to help? Are there any causes that you have worked with before?
You could also consider what causes are important to you, or have sentimental value to you and your family. Linking personal difficulties, you have had with experiences of communities or causes can clarify what is meaningful to you.
If you are struggling with ideas on which causes to engage with, head to the Giving.Sg website to see a range of causes and organizations listed in Singapore. On here you can see a range of organizations linked to children and youth, families, animal welfare, the elderly, women and girls, the environment and many more.
You may have decided on this before you even decided on a cause – how will you help?
This will ultimately depend on your resources. Usually, these are time, money, network, and other resources – such as things you can donate. Ask yourself some questions – what do you have in abundance or in spare that you could live without? If you do not have money to spare right now, consider other things you can invest. Perhaps volunteer your time, skill, or some of your unused belongings?
If you are thinking of volunteering your time, maybe you could volunteer your time in a food bank or an old resident’s home to brighten up someone’s day? Schedule it in for twice a month and see how it works for you.
If you prefer to support young people, perhaps mentoring vulnerable youth is more interesting for you — or donating milk and diapers for underprivileged youth and families. Check out SSVP, YWCA or the Family Life Society to help households in need.
Think about the neglected clothes, shoes, old electronics, groceries, books, and old toys in your house – donate them to several causes that will put them to good use. Consider the Salvation Army for clothing, Soles4Soles for shoes and Blessings in a Bag for books. This range of items could meet a need for another person or become a new treasure for a young child.
An online search will bring up lists of organisations to volunteer at, including on the Giving. Sg website.
You can also find organisations that receive monetary donations on this website. Justify your contributions by thinking – since you are working from home now and are only making home-made coffees – maybe you could spare the $2.50 you spend every day for one month to a cause you care about? What easy savings are you making that you could re-direct towards someone in need?
If you are lucky in your friends and family and possess a great support network that holds similar values to you, you may want to mobilise this network to create an impact? Leveraging your network can expand the positive impact on the cause you are engaging with.
Start a fundraiser. Work with some friends that are interested in your cause to start a fundraising campaign. A common one is to do an activity that requires extra effort to raise money – such as fundraising for a marathon run or giving yourself a crazy haircut! You could also put on a fancy dinner or lunch for your friends and family and charge them to attend. Donate these funds to the organisation you feel passionate about.
You could set up your fundraising platform through the Giving. Sg website, just like Kaustubh and Christian have done for their fundraiser campaign titled “Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund”, for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics.
If we look around us, there could be many opportunities to help. Draw some inspiration from local heroes in the Singaporean community that have applied their skillsets to social issues uniquely and creatively.
If there is a unique issue in your neighbourhood, consider how you could help to address it. Perhaps you can organise care packages or fresh food parcels for foreign workers based in or near your community, in need of a helping hand and proper nutrition.
One extraordinary story is of business development director, Rahimah A. Rahim, who, after hearing about discriminatory actions taking place against Chinese nationals, decided to act. To fight back against the spread of racism, she started the “Get Well Card Project” that educates children on the social and economic impact of the virus. The project stresses that the virus does not discriminate on who it infects. Through partnering with schools, Rahimah has been able to educate almost 1,000 children on topics of xenophobia and racism.
Another example of an incredible application of skillsets is by the team of website ‘FoodLeh?’. University students, Lim Yi Fan and Ng Chee Peng decided to help struggling hawker stalls with their business by increasing their online presence through this website so that that neighbourhood residents could order their favourite dishes online.
Another idea is to harness the power of online streaming – maybe create a podcast or short movie that will educate people on a relevant topic. Just like writer Amanda Lee Koe and film-maker, Kirsten Tan did with their ‘watch party’ idea of the movie ‘Portrait Of a Lady on Fire’. They did this to help people feel connected during an isolating period.
Getting your children involved in thinking about others is an important life lesson. In doing so, this also teaches them about empathy, gratitude, and compassion. Consider doing this as a family activity so that you can enjoy developing and nurturing these values together.
You will need to look for organisations that welcome children volunteers. Luckily there are many in Singapore. For example, at Willing Hearts – a soup kitchen that sends out 5000 food packages to 40 locations around the country, children can pick from preparing food, cleaning utensils, and packing lunch boxes.
If you would like for them to develop respect for the elderly, consider volunteering at an elderly home such as Lion Befrienders. This helps combat loneliness amongst older people and can encourage your kids to develop connections and confidence beyond their age group.
There are other simple ways to involve your children in giving back. Involve them in card or poster making, to write special notes to people that may be feeling worried about the future – such small and local business owners or vulnerable households. You could even get your children’s neighbours involved as a collective effort. Receiving a thoughtful card is an easy way to brighten someone’s day and a simple activity for the children.
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