Well of donations to meet students' wishes
The Children's Wishing Well website helps to give donations in to needy students. -ST
[(From left) Mohammad Walid Hamdan, 13, and his sisters Masyitah, 10, Nurul Sakinah, seven, and Asmaa' Widad, 15, at the Jurong Regional Library on March 31 with undergraduate Teo Jin Kai, 22. Mr Teo contributed $30 to buy Mohammad Walid a pair of shoes via the Children's Wishing Well website, which gives donations in kind to needy students.]
By Yeo Shang Long
THE cup runneth over at the Children's Wishing Well.
In its first disbursement ceremony on March 31, the charity organisation handed out donations in kind worth about $5,500 to 31 needy students under the age of 18.
They received mattresses, bicycles, shoes and backpacks, among other things.
Donors are able to visit the website, read write-ups on potential beneficiaries - written by teachers or social workers - and pick specific students they wish to help.
It is an innovative and efficient way of matching donors and beneficiaries, said Children's Wishing Well chairman Maurice Nhan, who is also the chief country officer of French bank Societe Generale.
'It's a really magical and wonderful moment for the kids, when we show them that their wishes can be granted,' he said.
One of the beneficiaries is Mohammad Walid Hamdan, 13. The Secondary 2 student at Yuhua Secondary School got what he wanted - a new pair of school shoes to replace his worn ones.
The Children's Wishing Well was alerted to his plight through a Family Service Centre, and it encouraged Mohammad Walid and his siblings to apply through the website.
His situation caught the eye of undergraduate Teo Jin Kai, 22, who chipped in the $30 needed to buy the new shoes.
The chemistry and biochemistry student, who heard about the Wishing Well from a friend, said he wanted to sponsor Mohammad Walid because 'shoes are really a basic need; you can't go to school without them'.
'It's a practical and meaningful way of contributing,' he said, adding that he would do it again.
Said Mohammad Walid's father Hamdan Omar, 43: 'I'm really happy and grateful that there are people who start such projects to help children.'
Three of the public sector worker's daughters - Asmaa' Widad, 15, Masyitah, 10, and Nurul Sakinah, seven - also received a haversack, thumb drive and wristwatch respectively through the Wishing Well.
Mr Hamdan, who takes home $1,000 each month to support his six children, said the donations have helped ease his burden.
The Children's Wishing Well was set up in January by the Student Advisory Centre (SAC). It has listed 62 requests on its website, 31 of which were answered by March 31. It intends to hold quarterly disbursement ceremonies.
The organisation has also received $25,000 in general donations, which it will use to meet the needs of beneficiaries not picked by members of the public.
Currently, beneficiaries are referred by partner school Yuan Ching Secondary School, several Family Service Centres, and the SAC.
'We have sent invitations to all primary and secondary schools as well, and we really hope they can participate so that we can benefit more children,' said SAC executive director Trevor Xie.
Schools which wish to nominate beneficiaries, and members of the public who are keen to donate, can go to www.wishingwell.org.sg
This article was first published in The Straits Times.
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