Making a difference: Hawkers provide needy elderly with free lunches
We are featuring six everyday heroes have made a difference in the lives of strangers. Their heart-warming deeds are celebrated in the ongoing Good Man Good Deeds Good Rice campaign, a collaboration between Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao and Tong Seng Produce, which will donate 500kg of its SongHe rice and 60 litres of canola oil each to charities of their choice...
For the past 10 years, a number of elderly people have been gathering once in a while at Alexandra Village Food Centre for a free lunch.
Organised by the Alexandra Village Business Association, the free lunches are held for the needy elderly one to three times a year as part of its efforts to give back to society.
Some 10 to 20 people living in the area show up each time.
Association chairman Lim Eng Hock, 71, said: "Those who come for these free lunches do not need to fulfil any criteria. I work here and I know them well, I know what they like to eat."
But it is difficult to persuade hawkers to join the cause - of the 80-odd stalls in the hawker centre, only about half participate in the free lunch service.
One of them is Hock Kee Bak Kut Teh's Mr Tan Peng Wah, 68, who has treated many of the needy elderly to his famed Hokkien-style bak kut teh for the past five years.
Mr Tan, who grew up poor and had to share a cup of tea with his siblings, is glad to help those in need. Sometimes, he comes across elderly customers who ask for some food. He does not turn them down.
Being a hawker can be a financially stable job these days.
Mr Lim said: "Hawkers used to be seen as having a low-paying, unglamorous job and were looked down upon."
But the job has evolved - from selling on the streets to selling in hygienic spaces. Hawkers also earn more now.
Hawkers can now contribute to the needy, and Mr Lim takes pride in this.
He said: "Our kids are older now, we have fewer burdens, so I really wish I can have the space to help others too."
The men have chosen Sunlove Home as their choice of charity.