Volunteering during the pandemic: Give back to the community where help is needed

·10-min read
(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

It is no secret that charities and social enterprises are facing an even tougher challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic due to social distancing restrictions. While most of us are stuck at home, these charities are struggling to make sure that their beneficiaries continue to receive the much-needed help.

In trying times like these, any help goes a long way. Whether it is the donation of your time, money, or resources, Yahoo Lifestyle SEA has compiled a list of organisations to make volunteering more accessible and convenient for you.

(PHOTO: The Food Bank)
(PHOTO: The Food Bank)

The Food Bank Singapore

Founded in 2012, The Food Bank Singapore aims to end food insecurity of all forms in Singapore. With 360 member beneficiaries such as nursing homes, Family Service Centres, and Senior Activity Centres under them, the non-profit acquires donated food from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and makes it available to those in need through their network.

The coronavirus outbreak made more turn to The Food Bank Singapore for meals, and you can help pay for some of these meals via their donation drive. Alternatively, you can also drop off non-perishable food in their bank boxes in locations across the island.

(PHOTO: Willing Hearts)
(PHOTO: Willing Hearts)

Willing Hearts

Run mostly by volunteers, Willing Hearts is a secular, non-affiliated charity running a soup kitchen that prepares, cooks, and distributes 6,500 meals daily to over 40 locations islandwide. Up and running since 2005, their beneficiaries include the elderly, disabled, low-income families, children from single-parent families, poverty-stricken families, and migrant workers.

Willing Hearts’ soup kitchen opens 365 days a year, and they require assistance to prepare, cook and deliver the meals. You can know more about being a volunteer at their soup kitchen here.

The charity has a list of provisions that they will accept as donations on their website, and are also holding a donation drive to raise funds for machinery upgrade to better prepare and provide for the daily meals.

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It’s Raining Raincoats

A ground-up charity for the benefit of migrant workers, ItsRainingRaincoats aims to improve migrant workers lives in Singapore and help to strengthen their integration into the local community.

Run solely by volunteers, ItsRainingRaincoats carries out different initiatives concurrently according to the needs of these workers. With COVID-19 affecting the foreign workers’ dormitories and many workers stuck in their rooms, you can volunteer your time to teach them basic English over a call under the MAD WISH 2020 initiative.

The charity also regularly posts needed items or help on their Facebook page, with the latest being a call for help with contactless transport of donated items for migrant workers. You can also check out their COVID-19 Response page for more ways, such as donating data cards, care packs, food and snacks, to help migrant workers.

File photo. (PHOTO: Helping Joy)
File photo. (PHOTO: Helping Joy)

Helping Joy

Helping the vulnerable, such as physically and mentally challenged individuals, elderly, and low-income families, Helping Joy provides necessities and food rations, free tuition, and home maintenance for their beneficiaries.

The organisation goes the extra mile by providing final journey arrangement for the elderly without any immediate family members or from low-income families when they passed on. To offset the costs for these final journey arrangements, Helping Joy runs donation campaigns on their Giving.sg page to raise the needed funds.

Volunteers are encouraged to join the charity in their monthly home maintenance, cleaning, and major decluttering for the physically and mentally challenged residents. You can also donate to the charity to help them continue providing meals and provisions for the beneficiaries under their care.

MigrantsOK@Home. (PHOTO: CFS)
MigrantsOK@Home. (PHOTO: CFS)

Community Foundation of Singapore

Set up in 2008, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) encourages and enables philanthropy in Singapore. The organisation strives to match donors’ interests with causes that are close to their hearts and offers ways for them to make a more significant impact through their charitable funds. CFS aims to identify gaps and opportunities in the community to foster more effective giving.

To support vulnerable communities, such as needy children, rough sleepers on the streets, frontline workers, and marginalised groups, adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, CFS has set up the #SayangSayangFund.

Donations will be used to support community-based emergency response funds for marginalised communities, and ensuring no one falls by the wayside during this challenging period.

File photo. (PHOTO: Fei Yue)
File photo. (PHOTO: Fei Yue)

Fei Yue Family Service Centre

Established in 1991, Fei Yue Family Service Centre (FYCS) is a not-for-profit voluntary welfare organisation with a mission to effect life transformation through the provision of quality social services.

A multi-service social service organisation, FYCS provides help from infant to elderly, for individuals, couples, and families. Their services include community mental health outreach, intermediate/long term care (ILTC), counselling for individuals and families, various marriage support services, and more. Apart from the direct services, the organisation also provide equipping and training programmes, conducting research studies and engaging the communities through their outreach efforts.

FYCS accepts donations directly through PayNow, cash or cheques, and via their Giving.sg page. Tax-exempted receipts will be issued for donations above S$10. Volunteers are needed to keep FYCS’s services, such as outreach for elderly and transnational families, afloat.

The charity also accepts provisions according to their needs, which can be accessed on their donation page. Food rations should have a shelf life is at least three months and above, and must have the Halal logo printed on the packaging.

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Entirely volunteer-led and run, ReadAble believes in literacy for life in every child and beating poverty one word at a time. Started in 2014, the organisation runs weekly reading and language arts classes for children ages 2 to 15 in Chin Swee. Using a phonics-based curriculum for the younger children and complementing primary school syllabus for the older kids, the organisation also uses drama, movement, and play to cultivate a love for reading, building self-confidence, and encourage creativity amongst their students.

Having built a community library of more than 1000 books for their students to access books at every reading level throughout the week freely, ReadAble had also started teaching their students’ predominantly migrant mothers functional English to navigate life in Singapore.

There are many ways for you to get involved with ReadAble, be it volunteering your time regularly, donating to the charity, or even starting your own literacy non-profit.

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Animal Lovers League

A no-kill shelter with over 500 dogs and cats under their care, Animal Lovers League (ALL) seeks to control the stray population by sterilisation and to encourage the public to adopt not buy. ALL’s volunteers feed and treat animals under their care, bringing them for veterinary checkups, vaccinating them against illnesses, and neutering them. The organisation also feeds hungry strays on the streets.

Animal lovers can also volunteer their time and skills at the shelter, helping out cleaning, feeding, and walking the dogs. Designers, photographers, and writers are also needed at ALL to help with their events and merchandise designing.

If you cannot adopt a pet but yet want to do more, you could sponsor a furry friend at S$50/month for cats and S$100/month for dogs, which entitles you to weekly visits at the shelter. Alternatively, you can also donate directly to ALL to help them feed and care for their rescues.

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Kitten Sanctuary SG

Kitten Sanctuary SG (KiSS) is focused on ongoing efforts in rescue, rehabilitation, education and re-homing of cats in Singapore. Starting Singapore’s first neonatal Kitten Nursery & Kitten Kindergarten in 2019, KiSS is also committed to taking care of newborn stray kittens to ensure that they have a fighting chance in life.

While it is named Kitten Sanctuary, the shelter had started a campaign, #NoMamaGetsLeftBehind in 2015 to promote the adoption of adult cats as they are traditionally more challenging to get adopted than kittens. The organisation also carries out Cat Parenting Coaching for potential adopters to ensure cat parents are committed for life.

Adopting a cat from KiSS is a 7-step process that the organisation adopt to ensure that their rescues go to responsible owners. Cat lovers can also volunteer to help out at the shelter, with duties including food preparation, cleaning, and bottle feeding the kittens.

Supplies can be donated directly to help KiSS feed and care for their most vulnerable kittens and ensure that no rescues go back to being a stray. Alternatively, you can also donate cash to help the shelter in their cat rescue.

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Seven Clean Seas

First started as a beach clean up community in Singapore, Seven Clean Seas has since expanded to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom. Appalled by the volume of trash washing up along our beaches, the group’s mission included leading a resistance against marine plastic pollution, conserve bird and marine life, and educating the perils of irresponsible plastic consumption in our daily lives.

The community now organise monthly international coastal cleanups and hold educational talks for remote communities. To be part of their volunteering team and join them in removing coastal waste, you can check out Seven Clean Seas’ Facebook events page.

To support Seven Clean Seas, buying one of their plastic-free, ocean-friendly bracelets can fund the community in removing one kg of plastic. Contributing monthly to their cleanup efforts allow you to choose how much to donate for the corresponding amount of waste removed from the coastal lines.

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