As the year draws to a close and Christmas beckons from right around the corner, it’s easy to feel buoyed by all the festivities. It’s also the best time to put on the brakes on life, to take time for rumination and reflection, to take stock of the year and to count one’s blessings. Is there any wonder that the year-end festive season is also known as the season of giving – an opportunity to be generous with your time and love for your friends, family and the wider community – when you are filled with such good cheer?
Given all that has happened so far this year, it’s perhaps even more important than usual that we seize the chance this festive season to make this Christmas the most meaningful one yet for everyone around us. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is truly about?
Here are five simple ways to go about doing it.
Learn sewing skill, support Singapore Fashion Runway
In simpler times, Christmas bazaars featuring booths manned by local social enterprises and non-profit organisations, like the Giving Marketplace supported by Marina One as part of Giving Week in 2019, were the best place to get all your mindful shopping done. While these bazaars won’t take place this year, you can still make your purchases directly from the social enterprises.
Singapore Fashion Runway (SFR), a social enterprise that helps people with special needs and other vulnerable groups gain skills in the areas of creative arts, performing arts and entrepreneurship for example, offers its Fashion for a Social Cause reusable fabric masks alongside a collection of Christmas cards designed by youths with special needs for sale.
Their newly opened retail store at People’s Park Hawker Centre also offers sewing classes, clothes alternation (length alternation only) and made-to-measure shirts and skirts.
Funds raised through your purchase of their products go directly towards supporting their beneficiaries in their pursuit of practical life skills.
For SFR, this means learning everything from how to design items and manage projects and orders, to serving customers. Having their artwork turned into merchandise that are then put up for sale can also be a huge confidence-booster for these youths with special needs.
Gifting ideas from Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore)
All of Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore)’s (MDAS) merchandise are designs/artworks crafted by their beneficiaries and then designed separately into merchandise that are useful for the every day.
Muhd Saifudeen, an MDAS member who was recently featured in the President’s Star Charity Show 2020, painting a special art piece alongside President Halimah Yacob on live TV. Being diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy since the age of 7, Saifudeen has had to face many physical challenges in his life. This did not stop him from wanting to be an artist and graphic designer, as many of his artworks are featured in MDAS’s publications as well as merchandise. MDAS helped ignite this aspiration in him through their art classes, as well as their Bridge programme, helping him to build functional and vocational skills.
You may browse their online merchandise catalogue here https://www.instagram.com/the.creativechair/ or call 6259 6933 to make an appointment for walk-in shopping.
All proceeds go towards funding the operating expenditures of MDAS in providing programmes and services for persons with muscular dystrophy.
Rally your friends or colleagues to volunteer with charities
The joy and satisfaction that comes from the act of giving your time to help someone in need can be just as much a gift for yourself; volunteering is known to provide a sense of purpose, and can help boost both your mental and physical well-being.
There are several ways to go about doing it once you have found a bunch of colleagues or friends who are up for spreading some good cheer this holiday season. Sites like volunteer.sg are helpful for first-timers to get a sense of the volunteering opportunities available, and can even help match your abilities to the appropriate charity if you don’t know where to start. Alternatively, if you and your friends have a specific cause you would like to support, reaching out to the charity of your choice is the best way to find out if there are ways you can help them out.
Perhaps you work for a company that has more resources at its disposal and would like to tap on them: get in touch with the charity of your choice, and find out how you can work together to create a meaningful engagement experience for both your colleagues and the beneficiaries.
For Marina One Community, look out for the many CSR initiatives that you can partake. Alternatively reach out to mscommunity@ms-developments,com to share your CSR ideas as it is said “many hands make the work lighter”.
Just be mindful that some charities prefer a longer-term commitment in the interest of their beneficiaries’ well-being, while safe-distancing measures are still in place at others, so don’t feel discouraged just yet if your ideas don’t come to fruition the first time round.
Giving can be easily part of our everyday lives on Giving.sg!
The reality of the pandemic is that while Singaporeans have been more than forthcoming with donations towards COVID-related causes, most charities in Singapore are facing a sharp drop in donations for its regular programmes.
This means that some classes and programmes that equip beneficiaries with critical life skills – especially those run by smaller charities that do not have the same awareness as its bigger counterparts – may eventually run out of funding.
A direct donation to the charity of your choice, as perfunctory as it may seem, is actually the quickest way to ease their load and make the most impact through your gift.
Platforms like Giving.sg makes it super fuss-free for anyone to pledge their support. Perhaps this sparks off your Christmas giving crusade and in turn, a ripple effect to inspire others to do good; this indeed is a perfect gift for Christmas.
Share the efforts of charities like Disabled People’s Association
At the end of the day, every effort that goes towards these charities – whether it’s merchandise purchase, a donation or a volunteering experience – will go a long way towards supporting these charities, non-profit organisations and social enterprises. And if something as simple as helping to share the digital initiatives of charities, like the Inclusive Flash Mob put together by Disabled People’s Association and dance studio Distinct Creative Arts, on your own social media platforms can help to raise awareness for these beneficiaries, why not share the positive vibes this Christmas!