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03 December 2008

A team of student volunteers sacrifices their holidays to organize a fundraiser event to touch lives. But little did they expect that they will also be touched by others’ little act of love. Here’s an excerpt from their stories...
A Little Wallet; A Valuable Gift

He was young—probably about six to seven years of age—and he had a pair of glasses which made him look really adorable. From where we were, we saw him tarrying near our booth for some time, seemingly being shy to approach us. Finally, he bravely made his way to our booth and asked for his gift to be wrapped.

I soon realise that the gift he had in his hands was a leather wallet. I started talking to the little boy and asked him who the present was meant for. He shyly told us me that it was for his mother. We continued our little talk and I managed to find out that the wallet cost him $60 and how he had spent a long time saving up for this Christmas present for his mother.

Reflecting upon this brief encounter with this little boy, we have come to appreciate how this little small boy taught us about love. And, despite all the tiredness of having gifts after gifts wrapped, this little boy has renewed the warmth in our hearts, as if helping us to remember why we were doing this project. And how often have we been so frantically moving about in life that we fail to stop and just see the beauty of this world and of the relationships in our midst.

He loved his mom and scrimped and saved just so he could get her something nice… It was as simple as that. Perhaps that is why people sometimes say that children have so much to teach us grown-ups. To us, it was both a valuable gift of love; both for his mother and for us.

Making a difference from where we are
If I were asked to name the most memorable person I met during the entire project, it would be the DJ whom I met at Plaza Singapura.

I can still remember how it was a slow start to our project and the response was poor and discouraging; people were simply passing us by or walked away when they realised that they had to contribute a donation for the gift-wrapping.

Just then, we heard the DJ and an idea struck me to perhaps ask if the DJ would help us in publicising the project. Just as the little boy tarried around our booth, so did I tarried around the DJ’s booth, not knowing how to start asking. But finally, I mustered enough courage and went up to the DJ, sharing with him the rationale and details about our project. Then, I asked him if he would help us publicise the project so we could raise more funds and he agreed readily!

We were so thrilled and at first, we had expected him to help us with merely one announcement. But little did we expect that he would continue to do so once to twice every hour and for the whole duration of the project. It was a simple request but what he did simply overwhelmed us; we did not have the means to pay him for his service, but yet he unconditionally helped us with our project. And as a result of his generosity, customers started to flock to our booth. From sitting around, staring into space, we were suddenly back on our feet with barely any time left for meals.

We are really grateful to Mr Deejay and can only credit him for helping our booth succeed in our project. On the final day of our project, we gave him a box of chocolates to thank him personally for his help. That evening, he even returned to us after his DJ duties were over and passed us quite a number of presents to wrap.

It’s often because we do not dare to make the first move that we miss out on seeing how kind people can be. It is without doubt that this project was indeed challenging and time-consuming to put together, but it is not the time spent that mattered but the humbling experiences we had which has taught us many a valuable lessons.

People who left an imprint of love...
Throughout the project, we met many people and different ones of them, in their own ways, encouraged us on in our project.

Of Mahjong & Love—On the second day of our project, we met a chatty customer from Australia. She had bought a mahjong set and had wanted it wrapped. She shared that the gift is for her husband and continued to chat with us throughout the time she was at the booth.

For a long time, we have considered mahjong to be pretty much an Asian game. So it was really interesting seeing this lady buying a mahjong set for her husband. As we worked on the gift, the lady continued to share how much her husband enjoys playing mahjong and also drinking. She goes on to share how she dislikes her husband drinking, which explains the choice of gift, a mahjong set—her little expression of love for him.

The next day, she returned. But this time round, she had with her more gifts to be wrapped, commenting that she had wanted to support because it’s a meaningful project with a meaningful cause. She stayed at the booth much longer and continue to share with us about Australia, Sydney Opera House and so on. When we had finished with all the wrapping, she made yet another generous donation and bade us goodbye. By then, our spirits were uplifted, to have share a brief conversation with a customer, who not only supported our cause, but also livened our day at the booth.

Sweet Treats—Throughout our project, we met a number of people who affirmed us for what we were doing. One particular lady customer commented, “it heartens me to see young people like you committing your time to do such things for society.” Others showed their support through their generous donations. But one customer left a deep impression in us.

It was Christmas eve. This customer came to our booth and took us by surprise when he came with an entire box of birds’ nest to be wrapped. We also noticed that he was holding a box of donuts bought from the mall. We wrapped his gift, thanked him and handed him his gift. But to our surprise, he handed me the box of donuts and uttered “this is for all of you” before going his way.

It was a heartwarming gesture because we had not expected to be blessed in such a way. He had been in a hurry but had to wait ten minutes for his present to be fully wrapped. But yet, he gave us all donuts; the first meal we had since our duty began. It was a memorable Christmas eve indeed for all of us. For showing such thoughtfulness towards people he did not know, he stood out from the rest of the crowd.

Those donuts were sweeter than any other donut I had ever tasted because of its extra topping…a topping of a stranger’s kindness.

Article originally published in the SA-V (Salvation Army Volunteer) Bulletin
December 2008 © All Rights Reserved