Service to society

05 September 2016 | Community
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Volunteers ready to distribute food to needy families at Food from the Heart's Self Collection Centres

Reinforcing the strong NUS tradition of giving back to society, some 1,400 staff, students and alumni came together on 3 September for the inaugural NUS Day of Service, an initiative of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board.

A total of 21 community activities grouped under four categories — Environment, Food, Health and Knowledge — took place both locally and abroad, targeting about 4,500 beneficiaries.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan was seen in the early hours of the morning at Willing Hearts soup kitchen located at Chai Chee Community Hub, preparing, cooking, packing and delivering food alongside 45 volunteers brought together by Tembusu College. Willing Hearts is a non-profit, volunteer-based organisation that provides 5,000 meals all year round to underprivileged and marginalised individuals in Singapore.

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Prof Tan helping to prepare food at the Willing Hearts soup kitchen

“NUS traces its roots to a modest medical school founded in 1905 through the strong support of the local community. Because of this, beyond the pursuit of excellence and academic achievement, giving back to the community has been a central and integral part of our education philosophy. The NUS Day of Service is an exciting initiative that was mooted by our alumni, as well as championed and supported by the entire NUS community…It’s very symbolic, it’s a very strong manifestation of our commitment to community engagement and to be of service to society,” said Prof Tan. He hoped many would continue to volunteer regularly, which would “magnify and realise the value of having this Day of Service”.

Over in the eastern part of the island, NUS Deputy President (Administration) Mr Don Yeo launched and participated in an international coastal clean-up organised by College of Alice & Peter Tan and NUS Human Resources. This massive exercise saw 160 dedicated volunteers collect and sort through 923kg of trash along the Tanah Merah Coastline.

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NUS students doing their part for the environment by participating in an international coastal clean-up

Other activities included food distribution by NUS Alumni Relations to 2,000 needy families at Food from the Heart’s Self Collection Centres nation-wide; a community awareness programme titled “Bin Right!” at City Square Mall by alumni of NUS Master of Science (Environmental Management) and NUS Environmental Studies on the proper disposal of waste in recycling bins; a visit organised by the NUS Students’ Union to the Action for Singapore Dogs shelter to promote animal welfare; a mid-Autumn festival celebration with elderly residents in Chinatown conducted by Eusoff Hall; and free door-to-door basic health screening for residents aged 40 and above living in one and two-room rental flats under NUS Medicine’s Neighbourhood Health Service programme.

Year 2 NUS Social Work student Janice Yeo, who helped to pack and distribute food with Food from the Heart, felt that the experience was an eye-opener which allowed her to see the translation of theories into action on the ground. “Although I’ve done volunteer activities in the past, this time I was able to interact more closely with the beneficiaries. I definitely encourage more people to participate in the next NUS Day of Service. It’s a very meaningful way to spend your Saturday and contribute to a greater cause alongside a group of like-minded individuals,” she said. 

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NUS students helping out at the Action for Singapore Dogs shelter

Overseas alumni members also took part in the event with the NUS Auckland Overseas Chapter holding a dinner to raise funds for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand, and the NUS Xiamen Overseas Chapter promoting conservation of traditional villages in Quanzhou, China among primary school students. The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Overseas Alumni Chapters in Bangladesh, India and Japan similarly contributed by planting 200 saplings, feeding poor children and holding a fundraising tennis tournament and dinner, respectively.  

Chairman of the NUS Day of Service Organising Committee and Member of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board Mr Jeremy Ee was delighted by the response from the NUS community who volunteered their time through the various activities to make that little difference. 

See press release.