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During our schooling years in Singapore, there is usually some component of charity project or voluntary activity (read: Community Involvement Project a.k.a. CIP) that is mandatory for personal development points or promotion to the next level of study, which also doesn’t hurt to have on your resume when you apply to different schools. Once you start #adulting, perhaps you might wonder if there are similar avenues to carry on giving back to society on your own free will. There are actually many charitable organisations and initiatives in Singapore that you can volunteer at — in fact, you can use this useful guide to determine which one of the overwhelming number of options and choices out there is suitable for you, based on your personality type.
If you live to eat, and not just eat to live, tie in your passion for gastronomy and/or culinary arts with your desire for volunteering. You can opt to volunteer with a soup kitchen such as Willing Hearts, which prepares and distributes food to the less fortunate daily, or make use of your other skills such as event planning, photography or even research, at the Food Bank, which not only collects and distributes food donations but organises food drives and outreach events to raise awareness on their organisation and activities.
In a patriarchal Singaporean society, feminist volunteers can take steps to champion for greater women rights and equality through organisations such as AWARE, which works with marginalised women and girls and offers them emotional support and financial help as they navigate difficult circumstances with respect and autonomy. One way to offer your help is through being a Helpline volunteer to offer counselling services to women – do note that training and a greater amount of commitment is expected for this role. Another avenue to support women-in-need is Babes, a teenage pregnancy crisis service that provides support to encourage a more inclusive society instead of marginalising pregnant teens in Singapore. Parenting experience for this role is preferred but they also accept volunteers that can help with administration and events.
Taking it a step further beyond volunteering at animal shelters such as SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore (RDA Singapore) provides a unique hippotheraphy (horse-riding therapy) to adults and children with physical and metal disabilities. Volunteers can be part of this therapy process as side-walkers with the horses, or help out in barn work and fundraising events to keep these sessions free for the beneficiaries.
If you just can’t seem to hop onto the minimalism trend, why not donate your shopping hauls to the needy and keep your closets from exploding before the next big sale? The New2U Thrift Shop (SCWO) accepts pre-loved items at their premises on 96 Waterloo Street, and even has sales on their shop items for the shopaholic in you that just can’t resist – it will definitely be a win-win for all in this situation! For the busier shopaholics, The Green Square offers free collection from your doorstep for a minimum load of donations, and has various drop-off points all over the country.
The Empath has many opportunities to work with the disfranchised such as less privileged children and youths, by volunteering in programmes such as kidsREAD by National Library Board or granting wishes to children with critical illnesses at Make-A-Wish Foundation. Those with a heart for the elderly can check out Lions Befrienders which matches volunteers to elderly who are at risk of social isolation, in order to provide them with friendship during home visits. Lastly, reach out to the marginalised whose backs upon which Singapore has been built upon – migrant workers – by volunteering your time and effort at organisations such as Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), that aim to empower and protect these migrant workers in the face of unfair treatment and dangerous environments.
In Singapore, we are literally spoilt for choice in many areas of our lives, including the different platforms for charity and voluntary work. If you feel like you have a blessed life and your cup is overflowing, take some time out of the quotidian to focus on something else besides your inner circle, by looking outwards and giving back to society.
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