They have collected and redistributed 6,000 masks and 1,000 bottles of sanitisers to those who need it more.
As the rest of the world is stockpiling toilet paper, surgical masks and hand sanitisers to fight COVID-19, some have started their own initiatives to help those who need it more. Contribute.sg is an online platform that provides a list of locations for people to drop off their spare masks and sanitisers to be donated or redistributed.
It started when good friends Jerry Lim, 38 and Jonathan Tan, 33, noticed people sharing on social media about the extra supplies they have received and they didn’t know where to donate them.
The pair, who have been friends for about 18 years now, streamlined the redistribution process, allowing people to donate their extra supplies to service staff, healthcare workers, and other communities in need, such as home bound patients and lower income families.
Usually, companies or individuals write to the pair to ask how they can donate their items. “Some people will just head down to drop off points too,” explained Jerry, who is also a co-founder of a software company.
Since late January, they have managed to collect and redistribute about 6,000 masks and 1,000 bottles of sanitisers.
“If anything, this just proves that Singaporeans are not as selfish and heartless as some people say we are,” said Jonathan, with a smile.
Despite working full-time jobs, the pair are quite involved in the whole process. They catalogue the donated items first before arranging for deliveries to organisations or individuals that need them.
“If you include collecting the donations, delivering them and the logistics required, I would say it takes up about a quarter of our week,” shared Jonathan, adding that they usually manage home deliveries on weekends.
The pair both agreed that the most important thing was managing their time well and ensuring they were not neglecting their clients at work or their social initiative.
“We’ve been doing different social projects for a while now, so this venture was not abnormal for us. Jonathan and I used to volunteer with a community service group when we were in university together,” said Jerry.
“We’ve found it quite hard to squeeze in the time to do volunteer work since starting work so when we saw this opportunity, we decided to grab it.”
When Jonathan and Jerry first started Contribute.sg, they relied on their own personal contacts, friends and word-of-mouth to get their initiative off the ground. They also spoke to friends who let them place drop-off points in their shops or organisations, such as tea bar Teapulse, the Singapore Kindness Movement and selected community clubs.
They also make efforts to seek out lower-income families or vulnerable people in their own neighbourhoods to ensure that they have enough supplies.
Soon, more people started hearing about them and word began to spread. People from other countries started noticing their efforts – some even expressed their interest to help from miles away.
“We had people from Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam writing in to say they had extra hygiene products and asking if they could courier it to us or donate it themselves if they were coming into Singapore. It really shows you how the power of social media can be used for good,” said Jerry, with a laugh.
As with every good initiative, Jonathan and Jerry have received their fair share of sceptics. Some even questioned how the donated items will be utilised.
“Many people worry that we are taking their things and reselling it. We make sure we post pictures on our website or generate reports as proof that we are not keeping these items to ourselves,” said Jerry, with a shrug.
When asked how long they intend to continue this initiative, both Jonathan and Jerry were quick to say that they hoped that they would be able to keep doing this long-term.
“Every day, we hope that COVID-19 will end. Till then, we will keep up our efforts,” said Jonathan.
“We also hope to be able to use our social media following in the future to support various social enterprises and to aid them in gaining an online platform and audience when this virus ends.”
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