They cut, they chopped and they packed – these were what student volunteers from Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Mass Communication (DMC) did when they were at Willing Hearts’ soup kitchen on 6 September 2023.
The service-learning project led by Emily Voon Jing Wen, a second-year DMC student, was aimed to give students a chance to contribute back to society by volunteering at Willing Hearts.
“Volunteering provides valuable learning opportunities beyond the classroom. With the many activities in Soup Kitchen, students can develop various skills, such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and time management,” said Emily.
Willing Hearts is a charitable organisation that provides care and services to the needy and underprivileged. The soup kitchen located at Telok Kurau is run entirely by volunteers with a few full-time staff to prepare, cook and distribute 7,000 meals daily to the needy islandwide.
Hard at Work
Upon arrival at the Soup Kitchen, the volunteers were split into four main roles consisting of the preparation of ingredients, packing of lunch boxes, cleaning up and general help.
They helped to chop up vegetables, open up food packets, clean the dishes and floors and clear out trash. Some other general help needed include moving pallets around, moving heavy cartons and any other ad-hoc jobs required at the time.
Some of these tasks proved to be a little bit harder than expected.
“Learning how to operate the forklift to move the pallets was challenging as I had no prior experience before this,” said Ashwini Jayasankar, a third-year DMC student.“ The staff patiently taught us and were willing to answer our doubts.” Together, they were able to complete moving all six pallets of food with guidance from the staff.
These tasks proved to be new for some of our students especially when it came to moving the palettes or chopping up the vegetables.
“We missed a step in removing the wilting parts of the spring onions before cutting them,” said another third-year Diploma in Media Production and Design (DMPD) student Maizurah Begum, resulting in her and her team having to redo the entire batch for usable vegetables.
It was new and even tiring for some of our volunteers but the end result was worth it.
Leaving a Positive Impact
“There was some level of peace and comfort within my mind and body when focused on the repeated chopping action, making it so therapeutic,” said Maizurah. Soon it became second nature for her and chopping the vegetables cleared her mind.
“I found the volunteering experience to be incredibly meaningful. I felt that it was a great opportunity for me to give back to the community and make a positive impact,” said Leticia Chng, a second-year DMC student.
Being part of the packing group, Leticia also mentioned that she was able to hone her teamwork and communication skills.
With food trays lined up in a row and one person manning per tray, containers had to flow continuously until the quota of 72 packets were bagged up and ready for delivery.
Nikesh Nageasuwarran, a first-year DMC student who was also part of the packing group said: “On top of the bonding that I got to experience with everyone else, it was an eye-opening experience to see how lives can be directly impacted through the aid of food packing.”
Apart from the impact made on the people receiving the packaged food, RP students found solace in volunteering. Be it therapeutic, enriching, or simply meaningful playing a small part in helping out was all that mattered.
“Everybody should try volunteering at least once in their lifetime,” said second-year DMC student How Jing Yi. “It really is a very fulfilling experience and it teaches people that the world is not just about taking but also giving back to the community as best as you can.”
Ms Nora Farhain, lecturer-in-charge of this project, added: “Volunteering will give you a different perspective on life and what it means to help others selflessly especially in today’s fast-paced world where interactions are cursory and fleeting.”
To find out how to volunteer at Willing Hearts, visit: https://www.willinghearts.org.sg/