She gives old folks new pyjamas
As we enter the Chinese New Year, we speak to individuals who have initiated projects to spread cheer to the needy
Woman raises $7,000 with family and friends to give elderly a Chinese New Year treat
Until she was 13, Ms Irene Lee's grandparents gave her a set of pyjamas every Chinese New Year.
Ms Lee's mother died of illness when she was two years old and it was her father's parents who looked after her.
This inspired Ms Lee, 46, to raise funds during Chinese New Year to buy new sets of pyjamas for the residents of Man Fut Tong Nursing Home in Woodlands.
She named her project "Wen Nuan Pai" in Chinese, which translates to mean a token of warmth.
Ms Lee said: "My grandparents taught me that we could stint on spending on ourselves, but not on giving to others.
"Pyjamas are a meaningful symbol of warmth and I wanted the elderly to feel cared for."
Ms Lee was a secondary school teacher for 14 years before she resigned in 2014 to take a break. She started Wen Nuan Pai that year.
This year, with the help of 80 family members and friends, she raised about $7,000, enough to buy 1,000 pyjama pieces and dry food supplies such as cereal and milk powder.
She also held a two-hour New Year programme, with performances by her friends and family, for 35 residents of the nursing home.
Ms Lee said she did not expect the project to come this far.
"When I started the project in 2014, I was only aiming to purchase 30 sets of pyjamas," she said.
"But my family and friends suggested that we give the residents one set of pyjamas each. And we did it."
The nursing home has more than 230 residents.
Ms Lee said: "I feel heartened seeing people from different stages of my life come together to do good."
Tan Wei Shan, 12, wrote a piece of Chinese calligraphy during Ms Lee's Chinese New Year programme.
She knew about Ms Lee's project through her mother, who was Ms Lee's course mate at the National Institute of Education.
"I am glad I could use my talent to bless the elderly folk with happiness and good health," said the Chinese calligraphy student of six years.
Ms Lee's aunt, Mrs Lee Cher Koon, who has helped Ms Lee with the project since 2014, said that Ms Lee has had a passion for giving since young.
"Even when Irene was in her 20s, she would buy food for the elderly people whenever she saw them at coffee shops," said the 83-year-old.
Ms Cecilia Loo, a senior executive at the nursing home, has been working with Ms Lee since the start of the project.
"Many volunteers hold one-off events and either donate or stage performances," said Ms Loo.
"But Ms Lee gives her all in doing both and she returns year after year."
Ms Loo, 62, added that pyjamas are a necessity for the nursing home's residents, who wear the pyjamas throughout the day.
"Being in pyjamas, instead of hospital uniforms, helps our residents feel more at home," she said.
A resident of the nursing home, Mr Teo Eng Swee, 86, said: "I am happy I got practical gifts such as biscuits and pyjamas.
"It also feels good to wear new clothes during the festive period."
Ms Lee plans to return to teaching soon, but she hopes to hold the project again next year.
"I may be giving these elderly folk material goods, but I receive an intangible sense of satisfaction and happiness," she said.