Singapore, 14 January 2008 - The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund has met its fund-raising target of $3.6 million.
The Fund has received $3.68 million, the highest collected since its inception in 2000.
The Fund was set up by The Straits Times and the National Council of Social Service to help needy schoolchildren pay for a meal during recess, or for transport to school.
Said The Straits Times Editor Mr Han Fook Kwang: “We are most grateful to our readers for their fantastic support. As a result, we will be able to provide 9,000 needy school children with daily pocket money to see them through the day.
“This shows that they resonate with our cause and understand the income divide in Singapore.´´
According to SPMF Chairman Peter Khoo, the Fund had to raise a record amount – about $400,000 more than the $3.2m it collected in 2006 - because it was providing a higher level of support.
Last year, ST and NCSS announced that with effect from 1 July 2007, primary school students would get $35, up from $30, while secondary school students would get $60, up from $50. The period of support per child was also increased, from one year to two years.
Said Mr Khoo: “The NCSS did a survey and found out from the ground that, with rising inflation, the beneficiaries needed more. Social workers also fed back that increasing the period of support would give them more time to provide holistic care to the families of our beneficiaries.
"Often, there are more than just economic woes in the homes of the poor. Many of them are dysfunctional. Volunteer welfare organisations often use the Fund as a point of contact to administer holistic care. So they don´t just help the kid. They also help their parents in a variety of ways - from skills upgrading and job matching to counselling.’’
Many donors showed their support of these changes to the Fund by giving more.
Perennial corporate supporters of the Fund, such as Cerebos Pacific Limited, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Seagate Technology increased their donations.
For example, Cerebos raised about $172,000 this year compared to $146,000 in 2006. The SGX donated $350,000 ($290,000 in 2006) while Seagate gave $182,000 ($148,000 in 2006). HSBC raised $547,793.50 last year, an increase of $55,529.50 from the $492,264 it gave in 2006.
Students and the ordinary man in the street also came forward generously in 2007.
The student-led group, Inspire ´07, raised $80,000, general practitioner Dr Janice Khoo $10,000 from her debut at the Singapore Marathon, while the Telok Blangah Community Club collected $35,000 from a concert that it staged.
Beacon Primary School marked the first day of school by collecting donations from students and parents for the Fund, raising about $500.
"It is wonderful to hear that the Fund has met its target,” said Mr James Goh, a community worker with Beyond Social Services who looks after nine-year-old Asri Abdullah, the current child ambassador for the SPMF. “This means that we can focus on other aspects of the child´s development.’’
More information on the fund can be found on www.straitstimes.com.sg.
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About the School Pocket Money Fund