When I was young, I was introduced to the glamourous aspect of doing charity work by my parents. At one time, they were both presidents of their respective charity clubs (Lions and Lioness Club) and i see them often dressed up to attend balls and such. They also took us kids to many events. I remembered going to Jurong Bird Park with the Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970, another visit to a Johore Ophanage for mentally disabled children which was in an appalling condition and the various christmas parties.
Once I was told to sell cassettes by Wilson David (Singapore’s Elvis Presley) at Far East Plaza by Lions Club. It was a slow morning and I pleaded with a man waiting at the entrance to buy. He turned to me, a 14 year old girl, and said coldly, don’t preach to me. If there is a way to turn a girl off from doing anymore charity work in future, this must surely be IT.
Fortunately or unfortunately that did not end my charity stint. My Physics teacher at RJC, Mrs Raveendren, or Mrs Ravee, found out that I was her neighbour and invited me to join her new start up Charity club. How can you turn down a teacher? So on some Saturdays, I would be found at Orchard Road selling flags. Mind you, there was no CIP hours to collect then and this is really volunteering for nothing in return. I remembered once walking along outside Tanglin Plaza and approaching an angmo for donation. He waved me aside rudely and I was muttering under my breath when he called me again. Then he thrusted $10 into my tin and walked away without a word. I was astonished.
Dear Mrs Ravee, even though she is now frail and retired, she still contributes by reading to children at a nearby primary school daily.
Charity work continued when i joined Rover’s Scout at NUS but that’s few and far. Needless to say, I stopped doing anything when I started work and the only charity I contributed to is flag days and NKF. I’ve often asked myself why don’t i volunteer somewhere, like those volunteers I saw at the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF)? You can call me lazy, but that’s the only reason I’m still not doing anything. (I really hate doing things alone, although many times after I’ve started, I found myself making good friends, like the CTSS PSG, or my yoga and pilate groups).
In the recent years, our financial lives have improved somewhat and Mike and I consider putting a sum aside to donate to worthwhile causes every year. I know many Christians contribute monthly to their churches and I admire that. I am a miser and it is difficult to part with my money, even if it’s for my own consumption. Everytime before I make a donation, I have to justify to myself why I don’t need that money for elsewhere.
It all started with the Asian Tsunami in Dec 2004. Mike wanted to make the largest donation we ever done. He asked me for my approval. How can i deny him that. I remembered thinking, there goes my holiday. Unbelievable but the next year, the money was returned to us three times when we won a top price in HSBC’s Singapore Sale draw.
The next few years seemed to be full of disasters everywhere in the world and it was easier to make a donation from then onwards. Sometimes, I still need to justify to myself why I’m doing it – Ok, my Serta mattress can wait another 5 years, or, I won’t buy any dresses next CNY.
As in any financial spending, there is a budget for donation which sometimes get exceeded unexpectedly (like this year!!).
Tomorrow, my favourite DJ 丁志勇 will be coming over to my house to collect donation for the Taiwanese Typhoon victims. If you’re reading this, please make a donation so at least he can make it a worthwhile trip. Any amount would do. It all goes into a single sum.