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6 charitable ways to make someone else’s Christmas better

Beyond the presents and sumptuous feasts, the festive season is also a time to reach out to the less fortunate. Embody the season’s spirit by giving the gift of generosity.

01: FEED THE NEEDY

Unlike other organisations that appeal for donations to purchase food items, The Food Bank Singapore wants you to look into your pantry, rather than your wallet. Simply drop excess food items into a food donation Bank Box – they are spread across 14 locations islandwide – to help the less fortunate fill their Christmas table. www.foodbank.sg

02: GIVE HORSE RIDING THERAPY

Horse riding isn’t just an elite sport – it also has a therapeutic effect on those with physical and intellectual disabilities, spanning cerebral palsy to autism. The registered charity group, Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore, offers horse riding therapy to those with physical and mental disabilities, free of charge. While experience in handling horses is an advantage, all training – from barn work to assisting the riders – is given on the job. rdasingapore.org

03: BE A STORYTELLER

In this digital age, children are spending more time with smartphones than they do with books. Kidsread, a programme launched by the National Library Board and People’s Association, bucks the trend by having volunteers read to children from low-income families. This Christmas, give the weekly literary session a festive twist by narrating the season’s most uplifting tales. www.nlb.gov.sg/kidsread

(RELATED: The Peak Power List 2016: In Honour of Philanthropy.)

04: HELP THEM PLAY

While many children fret over which of the latest action figures or gadgets to add to their collection for Christmas, some are limited to only two toys – and may get to pick them out just once a year, at the Toy Buffet organised by Toys from the Heart. The non-profit organisation distributes thousands of pre-loved toys to children from low-income families through monthly parties and events, and also at the Toy Buffet – a carnival usually held in November, now in its 14th year. www.foodheart.org

05: HOLD A HAND

A friend in need is a friend indeed – and Lions Befrienders Service Association gives you the opportunity to play that role. Formed in 1995 by the Lions Clubs of Singapore, it addresses the issue of social isolation among the elderly by matching volunteers to seniors for home visits. Help to take the edge off another’s solitary Christmas by gifting your time – the most precious commodity one can part with. www.lionsbefrienders.org.sg

06: RECYCLE YOUR POSSESSIONS

Happy People Helping People, a four-year-old non-profit organisation, collects old items in good condition and sells them at regular flea markets for fundraising purposes. The funds are used to provide basic aid to the homeless in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Items that are not sold are distributed to the needy; after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. www.facebook.com/HappyPeopleHelpingPeople

ILLUSTRATION JEAN YAP