Extending a helping hand

The Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) started Pass-It-On, a non-profit project, about 15 years ago.

For the last four to five years, The Helping Hand has been managing the project but it is still supported by the CDC.

Pass-It-On connects the general public, looking to donate items, with the needy through voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs).

The Helping Hand's CEO, Mr Chia Shih Sheung, says: "We are working hard to get more VWOs to use this website. It is a useful portal to link Singaporeans with the needy.

"We promise donors that their donation will reach the needy. We will go through the VWOs to ensure that the donations go to the correct people."

Manager of Pass-It-On, Mr William Sheng, says the scheme works this way to ensure the needs are genuine:

  • Public or organisations donate the items.
  • VWO staff put up a wish list for the recipients.
  • VWO staff receive the items and distribute them.
  • The wish list allows VWOs to put in requests for items that needy families require.

Mr Chia says: "It is more efficient, because instead of the donor donating items. They can see exactly what the needy need.

"You will be so surprised that 90 per cent of the wishes are granted within a week. We don't know who are these people who read the website. "Some of them would buy a new washing machine and even arrange for delivery. There are so many generous Singaporeans."

Some of the items that are donated include common household items such as refrigerators, sofas and mattresses, and even computers for those still schooling.

Next up, to pass on acts of kindness too.

Mr Sheng says they are looking into offering services, such as tuition, should families with schooling children require it.

But the public must also be aware that the items must have somebody who wants them. And that can take some time.

Mr Sheng says Pass-It-On isn't a holding centre or transaction point for the physical items.

He says: "We are just a two-person outfit manning the administration and developmental aspects of the website, although supported by the Central Singapore CDC and based at The Helping Hand, we don't have the resources to sort out what items are still good and which needs to be repaired."


Some potential donors are disappointed when items are not picked up immediately.

Mr Sheng says: "Although many understand what we try to convey after explaining to them, some sound desponded and disappointed, a few in disbelief that we are not helping by going the extra mile."

And then there is the ugly side.

"We've also noted that during times like Christmas or Chinese New Year, when people want to clear their old stuff, they try calling Salvation Army but do not get their items accepted.

"So on the pretext of letting someone else benefit from these items, they tell us the items can be put to better use."

Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, says of the Pass-It-On scheme: "In addition to providing a platform for our residents to do good and donate their used items to less-able households, we also hope that the programme will help encourage the act of recycling unwanted items instead of contributing towards environmental waste."