When Rhea Pestana’s colleagues at GIC, Capital Tower, asked her to participate in the annual CCT Gifts of Joy, she didn’t hesitate. “I wanted to be able to do something that would help kids with special needs.”
For the mother of two, this event, which provides an opportunity for CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT) tenants to contribute to special needs children at Rainbow Centre Singapore, was especially important. Her 11-year-old son, Yvan, is a student at Rainbow Centre Yishun Park, having been diagnosed with autism at a young age. She explained, “Yvan knows he would get something from this event at the year-end, so he has been expecting it. I know if my child is happy, I would be happy.”
Earlier, the students at Rainbow Centre’s schools in Yishun and Margaret Drive had given their wishes, which ranged from clothing, necessities, shoes, schoolbags to toys. For example, a six-year-old student wanted anew pair of shoes, while another decided on a cause-and-effect toy. CCT tenants were invited to “adopt” all 781 wishes by fulfilling them, dropping their gifts at collection points set up across CCT properties.
Buying gifts was just one part of CCT’s Gifts of Joy. Tenants were also invited to volunteer their time to help wrap and distribute gifts to the beneficiaries and/or take the students on a fun day out at the Children’s Biennale art exhibition at the National Gallery.
Ms Pestana and her colleagues were among the tenants who volunteered to wrap and distribute gifts at Rainbow Centre Yishun Park on 4 November. It was all hands on deck as they worked together to transport the gifts collected from Capital Tower, Raffles City Tower and Six Battery Road into a conference room at the school. It was a happy chaos here — the snips of gift papers, the ripping of sticky tapes, the folding of wrapping papers, and the excited chatter of volunteers as they methodically worked the morning away, getting the gifts ready before surprising the students with them later.
First-time volunteer Phay Kia Meau, who works at GIC, found the experience meaningful. She enthused, “It’s nice to see that a day’s work can brighten (the children’s) day.”
As for Yvan, he got his gift personally from his mum, Rhea.
“CCT Gifts of Joy gave me the opportunity to do my part in making a difference to those who are in need and lack necessities like school shoes and diapers.”
“CCT Gifts of Joy is a wonderful effort and has helped busy office folk like myself contribute to the community in a convenient way.”
A day out to remember
Additionally, over 200 CCT tenants volunteered their time by chaperoning Rainbow Centre’s 150 students to the Children’s Biennale on 8 and 11 November. Ms Preeti Razdan of Diageo, One George Street, who volunteered with four of her colleagues, witnessed how the teachers coped with managing students with special needs. She was thankful to be able to participate and said, “You count your blessings even more and appreciate all the help you can get; it gives you solace in your heart to do something for these kids.”
Similarly, Mr Edwin Lee and Ms Yang Wai Wai of the Singapore Institute of Directors, Capital Tower, said they found the activity meaningful, as it allowed them to bond with their coworkers and make new friends. Said Ms Yang, “We were unsure how things would turn out at first, but it’s been a joy seeing everyone stepping out to help in the end. We’ve learnt a lot about one another.”
But more than that, the volunteers also found new purpose in their interaction with the students. Mr Lee remarked, “I’ve learnt that there is much more we need to know to understand how to interact with children with special needs, and I appreciate how centres like Rainbow Centre help us with this.”
GIC’s Ms Pestana said the sacrifice of getting up early and the time spent volunteering was nothing compared to the reward of being part of something meaningful. She shared that through CCT Gifts of Joy, many volunteers realised that they had taken things like speech and mobility for granted.
She added, “This event showed us the importance of having an inclusive society — one that doesn’t neglect children with special needs.”