Outreach, Welfare

Big gifts from young hearts

Methodist school students give generously to MWS Hongbao Donation Drive

CHINESE NEW YEAR is a wonderful time for family bonding and catching up with friends. But for the youth, perhaps the biggest perk is getting to collect those money-filled hongbao.

With a multitude of ways in which our youth can choose to spend their money these days (gadgets, gaming, clothes, etc) one would not expect them to be so generous when it comes to giving part of their hongbao collection to help the needy. And yet despite their young age, these students know what it means to give back to the community and bless the needy and less fortunate.

In February 2010, the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) distributed envelopes to Methodist churches, schools and organisations as part of the “Hongbao Donation Drive 2010”. The money raised would be channelled to help the 5,500 beneficiaries of the MWS and fund the operations of its 13 centres and outreach services – five centres for children and youth, an annual bursary programme for students, four Family Service Centres, a nursing home, a home for the destitute and a hospice homecare service. In total, the MWS received $77,000, mostly contributed by Methodist school children.

It is not every day that we witness such generosity, especially since they are still young and do not earn any income. So what exactly goes through the minds of these youth when they decide to give up a chance to buy or enjoy the things they want, so that others can benefit?

Naomii Melwani, an 18-year-old student at ACS (International), believes that giving money is something that everyone should try to do. When asked about her reasons for participating in this donation drive, she answered: “It’s for a good cause, and if we already have more than enough for ourselves, we should share it with those who need it more.”

When she received the donation envelope, she not only made a personal contribution towards the cause but also decided to approach her family, relatives and friends to garner more money for donations.

Fellow schoolmate Joshua Wong, also 18, donated a portion of his own pocket money to the MWS.

“If we already have enough money and resources, I feel that we should share our blessings,” he said.

Two boys from Geylang Methodist School (Primary) also share the same sentiments. Ng Yong En and Jasmit Singh, both nine, said that when they received the envelope, they decided to set aside a portion of their hongbao money to give to the MWS. Both also agree that it is good to be generous and to help those in need.

Yong En said: “I want to give my money so that the poor can use it to buy food and the other things that they need. I will try to encourage my classmates and friends to give their money too.” Jason-Peter Lim, 12, from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), also shared his thoughts about philanthropy. He was inspired by a school leader who encouraged the students to put the money from one hongbao they received during the Chinese New Year into the MWS envelope. He also shared that he was encouraged to give his money as one of the school’s values was empathy.


Jason said: “Last year, I visited an orphanage for disabled children in Shanghai and through that I learnt a lot about empathy and helping the disadvantaged. So when I saw the MWS envelope, I felt compelled to give my money, it was the least I could do.”

It is certainly heartening to see the youths being generous – making an effort to understand the plight of the less fortunate in Singapore, as well as extending a helping hand to them through donations. They truly serve as a reminder to us, that no matter how young you are, or how small your donation may be, you can make a difference with a spirit of compassion.

Although the students interviewed are from different schools, of different ages and have different backgrounds, they all share a common hope for Singapore – a culture of sharing among citizens, not only that we continue giving our money to those who need it, but also giving our time, effort and prayers.

Alberta Low is a member of Christalite Methodist Chapel and is currently interning as a TRAC-ker at the Methodist Welfare Services Headquarters. Ian Ho is also a TRAC-ker.

Story by Alberta Low ■ Pictures by Ian Ho