My company has this annual community service thing whereby staff volunteer to spend a day or more contributing back to the community. I signed up for it last month and it happened on Friday.
The expected activities were cleaning, repairing, painting, that kinda stuff. Luckily for me, there wasn't painting involved. I know painting could be fun but really, I don't like the mess produced. And painting is less fun when you have to do a decent job of it. It is another person's house after all.
The beneficiary of these activities are underprivileged kids, defined as not doing so well in school and who come from a broken or troubled family. Mine was a 11 year old girl with a single parent. She has two older brothers. We were supposed to help make their home more conducive for studying.
Anyway out job was to help clear her stuff. They live in a one bedroom HDB. Living space is already pretty cramped but it was made worse by the countless and endless boxes of stuff stacked high from wall to ceiling. They must have at least 50 boxes of stuff.
The mom had at least 5 boxes of clothing, some of which were new but never worn before. She also had at least two dozen bags and handbags wrapped in plastic. There were more than a few sets of plates, cups, saucers and other kitchenware. She had a box full of perfume for an unknown number of years.
How she got those stuff? From years of collecting and keeping the things she received from relatives, friends, neighbours. Or even good and usable stuff which she picked up from wherever.
There we were, 10 adults helping her sort through her mess for 5 hours. We had to convince her to part with her belongings. We told her all the usable equipmend would be donated to the Salvation Army. We then had to separate the things that she wants to keep from those to be discarded.
All in all, I think we managed to achieve our target. We removed at least half of her stuff and rearrange the living room. Boxes were stacked nicely and there was more floor space. We donated a study desk and computer table to them.
There were a lot of moving and carrying of boxes and bags. We had to carry the items onto a lorry which shipped them to the Salvation Army in Bishan.
In the end, the mom was visibly happy and thankful for our help. Apparently, she had tried to clean up on her own but it wasn't as productive. That was understandable as she would certainly be hesitant to discard the stuff that she had painstakingly accumulated over the years.
She thanked us profusely for making her home more spacious and cleared up the clutter.
As for me, this wasn't what I expected when I signed up for it. Clearing up stuff didn't seem to be much of a service, but judging by their gratitude, we seemed to have contributed something meaningful into their lives.
It is not much but our little service made a difference.