Thursday 25 September 2014

Young folk launch '50 for 50' charity fund-raising

By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2014

WHO says young people care only about themselves?

A group of 50 individuals aged 18 to 34 has set out to debunk the stereotype of apathetic youth with its very own charity drive.

Over the next three months, the group, which calls itself The Social Co, will help raise funds for chosen charities to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

"As we celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday, we shouldn't forget those less fortunate than us," said Ms Rebekah Lin, 29, the group's founder, yesterday at the launch of the 50 for 50 charity drive at *Scape. "Through this initiative, we hope to break the stereotype that young people are concerned only about themselves and not others."

Ms Lin, who is pursuing a PhD in English at Birkbeck, University of London, started The Social Co three months ago after finding that "Singaporean youth possess a lot of creativity and could use that gift to do something good".

Her group will raise funds through activities like carnivals, cocktail parties, auctions and open-mic nights to help at least 40 lesser-known charities here. Selected charities include Student Advisory Centre, which helps underprivileged kids, and Caregivers Alliance, which supports caregivers of persons with mental illness.

"We hope to raise awareness for charities that people do not know about, charities that are not often in the limelight and have difficulties raising funds on their own," said 18-year-old social entrepreneur Elijah Ted Ng, the youngest in the group.

Corporate donors will be roped in to match the donations dollar for dollar. The total amount will also be matched by the National Council of Social Service's Care and Share movement.

"Bigger charities here have the resources to generate publicity and many people know them," said Ms Tan Li Li, executive director of the Singapore Association for Mental Health, which provides rehabilitative care to persons with mental health conditions.

"Big or small, we are all doing good work. Hopefully... we can piggyback on the creativity of our youth to create awareness for lesser-known charities."

SingTel is the group's first corporate sponsor. The Straits Times understands that six other organisations, including banks and small and medium-sized enterprises, will be contributing too.

"It is a good opportunity for our youth to make a difference," said Mr Chia Boon Chong, associate director of corporate social responsibility at SingTel.

* Youth charity drive raises $1.8m in 3 months
By Carolyn Khew, The Sunday Times, 8 Feb 2015

Ms Roseline Ching remembers how tough it was for her younger brother to get a job when he turned 18 because of Down syndrome.

So the co-founder of a woman's clothing label put together a Christmas luncheon last year.

It did not just raise $13,000 for the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), but also gave business owners an opportunity to interact with the intellectually disabled.

This was the kind of passion which drove youth project 50 for 50 to raise a whopping $1.8 million in the space of just three months.

With the Government expected to match this under its Care and Share Movement to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday, it means the charity drive will have around $3.6 million to give out to 42 charities. The sum is more than half the $6.3 million the President's Star Charity collected last November.

At an event to mark the close of the 50 for 50 project, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling highlighted the "impressive" achievement of raising so much in so little time.

"It was not an easy task and yet they achieved their goals," said Ms Low, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, adding that the project showed how much youth here were committed to contributing to society.

The project, launched last September, was the brainchild of 30-year-old Rebekah Lin, who is pursuing a PhD in English in London, and investment sales manager Cheryl Chong, 29. They wanted to break the stereotype that young people care for themselves only.

It involved 50 people below the age of 35 - from different walks of life, spearheading fund-raising projects and getting corporate sponsors to match the money raised.

Ms Lin herself organised a live music night at Wala Wala Cafe Bar. She said it was heartening to see the hard work of all the youth who took part. "I hope the lesser-known charities have also gained greater public awareness about their organisations," she said yesterday.

Among the beneficiaries are the Student Advisory Centre, which helps underprivileged children, and women's shelter Casa Raudha Women Home, the Autism Association and the Rainbow Centre.

Ms Lin also paid tribute to the corporate sponsors, especially those such as Ms Ching, who went beyond just writing a cheque.

Ms Ching, 30, hopes her efforts will encourage business owners to provide more employment opportunities for the intellectually disabled. "Having a job helps them feel that they are a part of society."

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