Lack of volunteers at non-profits as they pull out over virus fears
Non-profit organisations here have seen a dip in the number of volunteers as more people grow wary of gathering in large groups due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which causes the disease called Covid-19.
Ms Sim Bee Hia, chief executive of charity group Food from the Heart, said 21 groups of volunteers from schools and corporations, about 315 of them, pulled out on Tuesday.
It needs at least 500 volunteers to pack more than 4,000 bags this month.
Ms Sim, 54, said it has been scrambling to find volunteers since the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) was raised to orange. She foresees more groups cancelling their sessions.
When The New Paper visited its office cum warehouse on Tuesday, volunteers were hard at work packing items such as biscuits, canned food, instant noodles and rice into bags.
They will be given to family service centres, care homes for the elderly and students under financial assistance.
Ms Sim took to Facebook for an urgent public appeal to recruit volunteers.
"There isn't enough manpower but in a time of crisis like this, we understand. I've roped in staff to help out, and I am thankful there have been new volunteers reaching out to us via our Facebook page," she said.
Ms Eileen Tay, co-founder of the non-profit Friends In Kindness, has cancelled all volunteer distribution events for now.
Ms Tay, 32, who oversees about 120 volunteers to give out food packs to needy residents in Yishun, said this was a crucial step to protect the well-being of volunteers and residents.
She said: "Once the situation stabilises, we will resume."
Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said it has seen a 20 per cent to 30 per cent decrease in the number of volunteers since the virus broke out here on Jan 23.
SPCA will be holding a volunteer recruitment drive on Feb 20 and 22. Visit the SPCA website for more information.
Dr Gill, 37, said: "Our priority is to keep our animal welfare services running.
"We are closely monitoring the situation and will take the required steps to minimise disruption to our operations."
As part of Total Defence week, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Grassroots Organisations - jointly with Gain City and the local electronics retailer's volunteers - will be baking chocolate chip cookies for frontline staff like doctors, nurses and paramedics tomorrow to show appreciation in the fight against Covid-19.
More than 1,000 packets of cookies as well as drinks brewed by Hockhua Tonic will be provided, while residents and Yew Tee Primary School pupils will pen messages of support.