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27 February 2012

It was not your typical day in the classrooms of The Salvation Army (TSA) child care centres. In place of worksheets, music lessons and story-telling, the children had a chance to get their hands dirty as they baked cookies, planted plants and built sand castles.

Volunteers working with the children
to build their masterpieces in the sand.
On the 12 January 2012, a group of volunteers partnered staff from The Salvation Army's Child Care Centres for a "hands-on" learning adventure. For some of the children, this might be the first time they have tried out such activities. Judging from their radiant smiles and cheery laughter, there is no doubt it is an experience much welcomed by the children.

Volunteer Fujie shares, “It was truly an outstanding experience for me, especially since it has been a while since I had time for volunteer work. This outing brought me back to my childhood days; a time when we had little worries about the things that happen around us. The innocent faces brought great joy to all volunteers who joined... It really made everyone’s day when you see how much the kids enjoyed the session".

Volunteers helping to
bake and pack the children's
cookie masterpieces
This is the first time these volunteers come together as a company to render service on such a scale. Together with The Salvation Army and a few other non-profit organisations, they planned a series of community service projects for their staff.

Wayne Gui, part of the volunteer committee which made this day possible, mentioned that in putting together these projects, they had in mind to promote awareness of volunteer opportunities and also promote corporate values of care and compassion. "We have met both objectives... (and) staff members have enjoyed their day of contributing back to society," remarked Wayne. He hopes that the day has indeed helped to inculcate and have their volunteers live out the values of kindness, care and compassion.

Landscaping @ Peacehaven
The day saw different volunteers undertaking various tasks in non-profit organisations island-wide. Volunteers can be seen interacting with children in Ang Mo Kio Child Care Centre as they introduced them to plants and guided them in planting them in pots, in Tampines Child Care Centre preparing the cookie mix and baking cookies with the children, in East Coast Park packing sand into buckets and building sand castles with children from the Bukit Batok East Child Care Centres and in Peacehaven Nursing Home engaging in some landscaping work.

Volunteer Esther Tay shares, " (I) felt happy and satisfied seeing the new garden which we all worked hard to set up... leaving behind this nice plot residents can admire from their dining area. Gardening for the individual is therapeutic! I had a good time and left feeling good".

And this "feel good" sentiment is not only felt by volunteers on the ground but also by the committee members who organized it. Wayne describes the whole experience as "enriching" and that he was pleased to see the volunteers, beneficiaries and TSA staff having a good time. "To be able to see them (beneficiaries) having fun really did give me and the other volunteers a sense of satisfaction, not forgetting the patience and help we received from the TSA staff and volunteers. (I) would hope for more of such activities in the future," he said.

Indeed, the committee would be heartened to know that the volunteers left with a good experience volunteering and that their objectives have been met. As the committee rounded up the project and sent out an internal mailer to thank everyone and encouraged them to continue volunteering with the partnering non-profit organizations, volunteers take away with them the belief that this should not be the end of their volunteering stint. As Fujie puts it, "(Volunteer work) also teaches us to not take things for granted. As we grow, it is always great to be able to contribute back to society, even if it is just teaching cookie baking. It is just a little something we can do apart from our busy schedule and (it's) definitely a good break!"

Mission Accomplished!
  The Salvation Army thanks all volunteers and TSA staff, for making the day possible.