FairPrice marks 40 years of distributing used textbooks to needy families, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

FairPrice marks 40 years of distributing used textbooks to needy families

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A community project that provides needy students with educational resources marks its 40th year with a record 2,700 volunteers this year.

The annual Share-A-Textbook project by NTUC FairPrice not only helps low-income families but also promotes environmental sustainability through the reuse and recycling of textbooks.

Since its launch in 1983, the programme has collected, redistributed and recycled more than 6.8 million textbooks and helped more than 280,000 individuals.

Last year, 895,000 textbooks and assessment books were collected and redistributed.

It has drawn more than 10,000 volunteers and partners from the community, schools and members of the public who clean, sort and distribute the books.

At a celebration on Tuesday to mark the project’s 40th anniversary, Deputy Chairman of FairPrice Group Seah Kian Peng called for more members of the public to volunteer, and also donate textbooks.

In November, all FairPrice outlets will serve as donation drop-off points for the public to donate textbooks.

The books will then be distributed in December at Our Tampines Hub, with needy families getting first dibs on the books, before they are made available to the public.

Volunteer Lucas Chun, 26, has been helping out for the past six years.

“It really is a different kind of joy when I see the beneficiaries take the textbooks. All the hard work taken to distribute, pack and sort the textbooks is worth it,” said the university student, who quipped that he will continue volunteering for the next 40 years.

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour at the celebration, said the initiative is more than just the passing on of textbooks - it also passes on values such as gratitude.

“For all of us who have the privilege to own textbooks, they are not just something for us to use and discard,” he said.

“We are but stewards of those textbooks, for us to give thanks for the opportunity to use them and then to pass them on. In Singapore today, it is sometimes easy for us to forget that there are amongst us people who are in need.”

On Tuesday, Mr Seah, who is also an MP for Marine Parade GRC, also kicked off this year’s Innovation and Technology Hackathon.

The initiative, now into its second year, aims to raise environmental awareness among the youth. Secondary and tertiary students are invited to explore themes relating to lowering carbon emissions, reducing waste and encouraging community sharing.

Participants of the three-day event must develop proposals and pitch their ideas to mentors. Cash prizes of up to $10,000 are up for grabs.

Mr Seah said: “It is always refreshing to see our students stretch their creativity and come up with fresh, innovative ideas on how we can build a more sustainable environment. Our young will inherit the world and we must ensure they are well-equipped to be good stewards of our environment.”