Singapore, 9 July 2010 - Being able to save - and donate - are privileges many Singaporeans enjoy. The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (ST Fund) hopes that its 10th anniversary initiative will bind the two together to help feed needy children.
The public will be encouraged to purchase 50,000 Help-A-Kid Coin Banks at $5 each. When the coin banks are full, they can either save the money for themselves or decide to give a part, or all of it, to charity.
Said ST Fund organising chairman Peter Khoo, "We have a few objectives. Firstly, to encourage savings as a habit, especially as we pull out of the worst economic crisis in living memory. Secondly, we hope to encourage 50,000 Singaporeans to join us in purchasing the coin banks to help the less fortunate. And when their coin banks are full, they can choose to put the money in their own savings accounts or donate to charity.''
The public can purchase the coin banks at 40 selected NTUC FairPrice supermarkets from 15 July 2010 (see Appendix 1). Full proceeds from the sale of the coin-bank will go to the School Pocket Money Fund. Bulk orders can also be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the coin-banks are full, they can deposit their savings at any of the 18 OCBC Bank Sunday Banking Branch (see Appendix 2) on any Sunday in September and October this year.
Mr Ching Wei Hong, Head of Global Consumer Financial Services, OCBC Bank congratulated The Straits Times on its 10 successful years of running the ST School Pocket Money Fund, helping thousands of needy children by providing pocket money to sustain their day in school.
“This passion for helping the less privileged, particularly the children, is the underlying motivation behind OCBC’s corporate social responsibility thrust. That’s why we are happy that we can play our part in the Fund’s 10th anniversary celebration campaign as the exclusive collection centre. With 18 OCBC branches open for banking on Sundays, this makes it convenient for the public to bring in their donations,” said Mr Ching.
”In addition, each OCBC employee will get a coin bank. We hope that this gesture will add to our ongoing programmes to embed in our employees the value of giving back to society, and enrich the culture at OCBC,” he added.
NTUC FairPrice Foundation general manager Mr Wee Leong How said, "it is an innovative idea which NTUC FairPrice is proud to support''.
FairPrice Foundation donated $20,000 to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and NTUC FairPrice will also be extending its network of stores to sell the SPMF coin-bank. All sales proceeds of the SPMF coin-bank will go to the fund.
He said, "FairPrice Foundation is committed to helping the community and we are happy to support this meaningful initiative to ensure needy school-going children have pocket money for meals and school-related expenses. We are taking positive steps by investing in our children and we call on our shoppers to be our partners in supporting this cause as well."
To kick-start the programme, the three companies behind this drive - Singapore Press Holdings which publishes The Straits Times, NTUC FairPrice and OCBC - have purchased 13,000 coin banks at $5 each for all their staff.
OCBC Bank shall also be giving away these coin banks to the first 5,000 children who either open a new account or top up their savings account with a minimum $20 deposit. This is given to them in addition to the prevailing encouragement gifts. This promotion is from 15 July till stocks last.
Said Mr Khoo, "We welcome any company, school or institution to join us. There are 12,400 children who need help.''
The ST Fund requires $5 million this year. So far, it has raised $1.1 million, which means it is still $3.9 million short. Over the past 10 years, the ST Fund has raised a total of $30 million to support 73,542 children, many of whom have gone on to lead better lives.
Ronn Kay, 20, was struggling to feed himself in school when he was first put on the Fund seven years ago. But the $50 he received every month from the ST Fund helped him to focus on his studies. He attained sufficient grades to make it to Singapore Polytechnic, where he is now pursuing a diploma in landscape architecture.
Said Ronn, "I want to thank the people out there for helping me. Being able to eat means I can concentrate in class. I want to do well so that I can help my family.''
The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund is an annual community project initiated by The Straits Times that makes pocket money available to children from low-income families. The aim is to ease the financial burden faced by parents in providing for their children's education.
It started back in the year 2000. Back then, it supported 3,000 needy children, and required $1.3m to support the beneficiaries.
This year, its 10th year, the Fund needs $5m to support 12,400 beneficiaries.
As the official fund-raiser, the Straits Times rallies support for the cause and appeals to the public for donations to the fund. It collaborates with different partners, from corporate organisations to interested individuals, for various fund-raising events.
The Straits Times works closely with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), the fund's administrator.
NCSS disburses the funds to the beneficiaries through its network of family service centres, special schools and children's homes. Currently, 38 FSC, 19 special schools, and 7 children's homes have been commissioned to administer the fund.
A beneficiary who is in primary school receives $45 a month, while a beneficiary in secondary school receives $80 a month.
To be eligible for the fund, the beneficiary must be
(a) A Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident
(b) A full-time student receiving formal primary/ secondary school education
(c) Living in a 4-room HDB flat or smaller
(d) From a family whose per capita household income is not more than $450
Before approving an application, the social worker looks at whether the applicant meets the eligibility criteria and also assesses the family's financial situation.
The social worker's recommendation is then endorsed by the respective Director of FSC, Principal of Special School or Head of the Home.
Upon approval, social workers will continue to conduct needs assessments and half-yearly reviews to verify the need for assistance.
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