Saturday, September 8, 2012

Willing Hearts

Willing Hearts: Feeding the Poor in Singapore

Published by The Online Citizen on August 29, 2012
By Creatives For Causes (CFC) -
What happens when a poor elderly woman faces difficulty walking but has to buy groceries and cook daily to support herself and her bedridden husband?
Who takes care of and feed the children of a lower income family when the breadwinner, a single mother, has to work several jobs?
Clearly, our current social assistance schemes are not adequate to alleviate the dire circumstances of the poor entirely.
However, several good Samaritans from Willing Hearts have come together to provide free food and groceries for the lower income in Singapore… every single day of the year.
The Creatives For Causes team follows Willing Hearts on a typical day of their Soup Kitchen operation to cover their daily activities.
Willing Hearts operates their 100% volunteer run soup kitchen. They provide meals to over 2500 lower-income households in over 25 distribution locations such as Circuit Road, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Ho Swee and many more..
Every day, starting at 5am till 12pm, their soup kitchen prepares, cooks and distributes meals to the needy including the elderly and families in various locations in Singapore.
After a tiring day, at 1pm, the volunteers begin to prepare for next day’s work. They start by collecting bread from charitable bakeries. Following which, they head over Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market where they collect donated groceries for cooking and distribution.
Volunteers loading the groceries into the van.
Tony Tan, 65 is the founder of Willing Hearts Singapore. He runs his own printing business at Commonwealth and started this organisation because he wanted to do something for the poor in Singapore and also because of his late mother who influenced him positively through her active community involvement.
Tony cooking chicken for the lunch and dinner boxes to be provided to the lower income beneficiaries.
“To me, the poor are the most important people in the world as they cannot even afford the most basic need – their next meal. So, we hope to reach out to anyone who requires a meal,” says Tony.
When asked about what motivates him to do this 365 days a year, even on Chinese New Year and Christmas, he says simply
“Why not? The poor need to eat every day, even on special occasions!”
The Soup Kitchen begins work at 5am everyday and is currently the only daily, secular and non-profit soup kitchen based in Singapore. They even go the extra mile to ensure that their food is halal so that it suits the requirements of the Muslim’s lower-income groups.
A volunteer preparing rice
Sandy Ho, 39 (right) a Freelance Makeup Artist and Housewife volunteers her time every weekday.
She shares her experience about volunteering with Willing Hearts with us:
“I was looking for a voluntary job on weekdays and found out about Willing Hearts through SG Cares,” she quipped
“This is meaningful because it really helps people who really need it – those who do not have enough money to even afford their next meal!”
When asked about what kept her coming back, she mentioned that it was due to the people she met here.
“I like it here because all the people here are sincere and come every day despite not having recognition or pay in return,”
Her volunteering stint also has positive effect on her children, both of whom she brings over to help during their school holidays. Her two children are 8 and 9 years old.
“My son told me that he wanted to find a job which required him to work at night or on weekends. When I asked him why, he mentioned that it was because he wanted to spend most of his time helping out like all the people he met at Willing Hearts.”
After cooking, the food are packed into boxes and sent for delivery in different locations in Singapore where volunteers help to distribute to them.
Upon arrival at the delivery points, we could see a group of eager elderly eagerly awaiting their meal. It touched us to see their smiles of gratitude upon receiving the free groceries, food and bottled water.
The food, ready for delivery
Our volunteers distributing the food supplies which includes a packet meal (or two if they need more) , bread, water and groceries (vegetables for them to choose from so they can save money on shopping).
Volunteer Marean Chua (left) helps out daily with food distribution and cooking. She is currently between jobs and was looking for a volunteering opportunity to pass her time. She found the Willing Heart’s call for volunteers via SG Cares as well and decided to come down to help out.
“Besides food, Willing Hearts also tries to support our beneficiaries in whatever way we can. For instance, when we receive donations of adult diapers and wheel chairs, we try to ask around if any residents need it and supply it to them.”
She also shared with us that Tony was an inspiration to her because besides running his organisation, he sometimes brought the homeless back to stay in his home for a short while and helped them look for a job.
When asked about whether the government is doing enough to support the lower income, Tony said something that we felt was very sensible.
“Singaporeans must help other Singaporeans. This is not just the moral duty of the government and in fact, they cannot do it alone. It is the duty of every Singaporean to reach out to the government.”
Willing Hearts Volunteers.

Ending off, we would like to sincerely appeal to the general public to take action to create a more equitable and inclusive Singapore.
Here is how you can be involved to help Willing Hearts:
Volunteer!
If you would like to help out at the various distribution points or the main soup kitchen, please call Tony Tan at 9690 2086 or Charles Liew at 9873 2288.
Donate!
If you would like to make any donations (in cash or items), here is what Willing Hearts currently needs:
  1. Providing more meat and fish
  2. Providing more sauces for the food
  3. Diesel for the vans
  4. Electricity bills
  5. Gas
Currently the kitchen being used at High point Community Services is under lease and the organisation is also seeking a new kitchen space to accommodate their growing number of volunteers and beneficiaries.
For more information, you can refer to http://www.willinghearts.org.sg
And also, support them on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/willinghearts
—-
This article is brought to you by Creatives For Causes.
We are a pro bono communications agency that provides creative services to non-profit organisations and aim to bring more online attention to less known NGOs in Singapore!
For more information, you can visit www.creativesforcauses.com
Photo credit: Mike Mai, Photographer and volunteer at CFC
 

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