by Marilyn Peh on

Life in Singapore moves at a fast pace, and many of us often find ourselves time-strapped from juggling our work and social lives. Perhaps that’s the reason why when it comes to committing to a charitable cause, Singaporeans generally prefer to donate money rather than devote their time to it, even giving an impressive $1.25 billion to charity in 2014.

Not too bad, for a bunch of supposedly cold and unfeeling grinches. Social initiatives are also becoming more visible. From soup kitchen programmes to student-led initiatives, we’re learning of more of them each day, and we’re constantly inspired by fresh faces finding new ways to give back to society. What this also means for the man on the street is that it’s now much easier to find a cause that’s close to heart.

Here are five that we think are worth your time and money to support.

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Image Source: The Volunteer Switchboard Facebook page

1. The Volunteer Switchboard

Who are they:

A group of spunky young professionals who came together in 2013 to connect volunteers and needy families and elderlies. Volunteer Switchboard, get it? They don’t just connect though, they actually do the volunteering themselves as well.

What they do:

They help needy families in Jalan Kukoh under a programme called ‘Project Home Sweet Home’. Firm believers in teaching a man to fish, the team designed the initiative to let the community take the lead in caring for its most vulnerable. Under VSB’s co-ordination, residents themselves conduct the door-to-door deliveries in the low-income estate. The result? The community is better-acquainted, and residents help to look out for one another even on non-drive days. The group has high hopes of training the Jalan Kukoh volunteers to become self-organised, so that they can move on to help other community locations.

How you can help:

Among other things, they organise monthly food drives and require both funds to buy healthier and cheaper food options for the elderly as well as volunteers to help out at the drives. If you’re keen to donate or volunteer, go to: http://www.thevolunteerswitchboard.org/

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Image Source: Itsrainingraincoats Facebook page

2. Itsrainingraincoats​

Who are they:

A volunteer outfit that collects and distributes donated items to migrant workers.

What they do:

Two years ago, lawyer Dipa Swaminathan witnessed a group of migrant workers working through a thunderstorm wearing just flimsy garbage bags for protection. Struck by the neglect of their well-being, she wrote to their construction company and pushed them to ensure that raincoats would be given to those who work through bad weather.
The experience inspired her to do more. She organises donation drives and distributes items like raincoats and prepaid mobile cards to migrant workers in Singapore.

How you can help:

#itsrainingraincoats is seeking raincoat donations for migrant workers. Even better if you can help give them out. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/Itsrainingraincoats-1524633261192529

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Image Source: The Homeless Hearts of Singapore Facebook page

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3. The Homeless Hearts of Singapore

Who are they:

A group of individuals who seek out those who stay out on the streets, providing company and help to them.

What they do:

Many of us who live and play in this shining metropolis may be surprised to learn that there are people here who sleep on the streets. Many stay out not because they don’t have a home to go to, but for myriad reasons, from avoiding strained relationships to facing illness and financial hardships. Volunteers go beyond fleeting interactions to build friendships with them, and also direct them towards social services providers if they need further help.

How you can help:

If you’d like to give your time to this cause, contact Homeless Hearts of SG to volunteer: https://www.facebook.com/homelessSG

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Image Source:HOME Singapore Facebook page

​4. ​HOME

Who are they:

The Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (HOME) campaigns for the protection of migrant workers.

What they do:

Given Singapore’s heavy reliance on low-skilled foreigners as our foreign domestic workers and construction workers, HOME does a range of work to raise awareness for migrant worker rights and help migrant workers who have been unfairly treated by their employers, even providing shelter and legal assistance to those who need them. The organisation conducts research and advocacy work, voicing out for a group of workers who are at times marginalised and forgotten.

How you can help:

As a registered society and charity, HOME channels donations towards funding their various programmes. In particular, their work with foreign domestic workers needs your support. Find out more here: http://www.home.org.sg/

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Image Source: Food from the Heart (Singapore) Facebook page

​5. Food from the Heart Bread Programme​

Who are they:

A non-profit food distribution programme that distributes surplus food to the needy.

What they do:

After reading a report in the papers about bakeries discarding unsold bread, the founders of Food from the Heart developed a distribution initiative that delivered such food to the underprivileged. Today, it collects more than 28,000kg of bread each month and redistributes them to some 15,000 beneficiaries across the island. The sessions are carefully co-ordinated such that volunteers pick up the bread from different bakeries and hotels before sending them to assigned welfare homes and self-collection centres. The bread programme is one of FFTH’s five core programmes, and they also distribute toys and celebrate birthdays for the underprivileged as well.

How you can help:

Reduce food wastage wherever possible. If you’re keen to help distribute bread under the Bread Programme, find out more here: https://foodheart.org/bread_programme

Beyond these five initiatives, there are many other do-good groups in Singapore advocating for causes ranging from elderly care, to environmental conservation and animal welfare. Is there something in particular that ignites your passion? Seek it out and a new sense of fulfilment could be awaiting you from just around the corner.