A delightful smile spread across the face of Primary 5 student Haney Shafiqah when she received her new schoolbag and the goodies that came along with it at The Star Vista in Singapore. The thoughtful girl shared, "I am so happy! The new schoolbag, school shoes, stationery and some household essentials will help my parents to save money so that they do not have to buy these items for me. They can spend it on buying things for my elder brother who is in Secondary 2. "
Haney was one of the beneficiaries under My Schoolbag - CapitaMalls Asia’s signature annual corporate social responsibility programme. For the programme in Singapore this year, CapitaMalls Asia partnered five Community Development Councils (CDCs) for the second year running to reach out to children from low-income families in the country. Over 500 staff and community volunteers were roped in to accompany 750 children on the fun-filled outings at The Star Vista, Junction 8, Tampines Mall, IMM Building and Lot One Shoppers’ Mall.
M Narmatha, 11, from Geylang Methodist Primary School was visibly grateful to be chosen, along with her eight-year-old sister. “I’m happy to be here today. My family was very happy too,” she said. “It has been very fun and my favourite item is the pair of shoes!”
All children were also given S$20 worth of CapitaVouchers to do their own shopping, and Narmatha already had in mind what she would buy. “I will buy assessment books and revision guide books because next year is PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) for me,” she said.
For Ayu Wandeera Ng from Endeavour Primary School, she planned to use the CapitaVouchers to buy storybooks. She was full of smiles as she shared, “My favourite item is the schoolbag!”
Sharing Great Joy and Laughter
In Singapore, My Schoolbag took place at five CapitaMalls, with the first outing at Junction 8. It was a memorable one for 150 children as a slew of entertaining activities awaited them. They were first treated to a skit that promoted the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) through an engaging story of how superhero Enviroman protected the clean and green Tree City from the evil Litter Bug. Shrieks of “Me! Me!” were heard whenever volunteers were required - be it going stage to help pick and sort litter, or throwing balls of ‘pesticide’ to attack Litter Bug. The children were certainly all smiles when Litter Bug finally collapsed!
Then, came the highlight of the day - shopping! Group by group, the children marched merrily to the shops and chatted happily to volunteers along the way.
For first time volunteer Christine Kam, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications, CapitaMalls Asia, “it was an enjoyable experience being a child minder,” said Kam. “It’s a very warm feeling when you know that you can help them.”
Kam had joined the company three months ago and was delighted at the opportunity to do volunteer work. “All along, I wanted to do some charity work but in the course of my normal day, it’s hard to find time. I think it is very nice that the company offers an opportunity to do volunteer work,” said Kam.
Fellow newcomer Melinda Yeoh, Head of Revenue Management from The Ascott Limited was glad to volunteer as well. “I think it’s a good avenue to let them know that society cares for them. It boils down to how we support each other; whether as a family, a community, or a country. Hopefully they feel that they belong somewhere and there are people to help them. I’ll definitely volunteer again!” she enthused.
Great Fun for Little Ones
And the fun went on even after the shopping was done. The children were overjoyed with all the entertainment lined up for them, and gamely went on stage to dance and sing along to the pulsating music. They jumped at the opportunity to get a balloon, but sat captivated throughout the magic show. There was certainly never a dull moment.
The children were also surprised with a special appearance by the great panda mascots Kai Kai and Jia Jia at Junction 8! The adorable duo received a very warm welcome from the children who shrieked excitedly and tried to touch them, and later even leapt at the chance to go on stage and dance alongside them.
Putri Darwisyah Bte Azmi Hasrin from Yumin Primary School, who attended the event at Tampines Mall, was excited to get new school shoes. “I can wear them when school reopens!” he said, “I had fun and my favourite part of the event was shopping at NTUC.”
Muhammad Rafiq of PCF (Nanyang) attended the outing at IMM Building and had a jolly good time at the Giant hypermarket. “I enjoyed myself very much! I intend to use the CapitaVouchers to treat my family to a meal,” he shared.
Besides Singapore, My Schoolbag has also touched the lives of children in other countries. In September 2013, CapitaMalls Asia collaborated with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation to donate new schoolbags and stationery to more than 19,000 students in China. In December 2013, My Schoolbag took place in Malaysia, Japan and India. Overall, about 21,000 underprivileged children benefitted from this year’s programme with S$500,000 funding from CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand.
Mr Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CapitaMalls Asia, said, “We are pleased that My Schoolbag has benefitted more than 70,000 children in Asia since its inception in 2009. We are happy to be able to work with our partners and retailers to bring cheer and warmth to the communities where our malls operate. It is our hope that the schoolbags will provide the underprivileged children with a headstart in their education and journey to a better life. We also thank our volunteers, whose commitment to the programme embodies our spirit of community development.”