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“Precious Gems 9″ – New Year Blessings, With Love from our Volunteers
27 January 2017

At the atrium of the large shopping centre, our Daycare supervisor was giving instructions to more than 60 volunteers on their patient assignment and how to manage the patients when they later arrived. There were five volunteer leaders each carrying a different coloured flag, ready to take on their assigned patients. In between, our supervisor was also busy taking many phone calls from excited patients, who wanted to know when they would be picked up for the lunch cum shopping trip. To cater to over 50 patients who had signed up for the day’s outing, a volunteer organisation lent us an additional van, so that we could accommodate everyone.

By 10.45am, the first van arrived and each patient was given a warm round of applause as they disembarked. Everyone was in a state of high spirits and excitement. Each patient I met, thanked me profusely for allowing them to come on this trip. By the time the fifth van arrived at 11.45am, the first few batches of patients were already ‘wheeled’ down to the restaurant.

Everyone was treated to a sumptuous lunch which included freshly steamed dim sum, double boiled soup, delicious fish, roasted char siew, fresh vegetables, fragrant noodles and chilled mango sago pudding. Our Muslim patients too had specially catered halal lunch.

All our volunteers accompanied and assisted our patients for their ‘toileting’ and everyone was raring to go shopping. Outside the hypermart, volunteers were reminded to wheel the patients through the hypermart aisles to purchase items that they wanted and to take their time.. Each patient was armed with a shopping basket on his or her lap, some had ready shopping lists, some were armed with their calculators (so that they would not exceed the S$30 that they were presented with for shopping). Others were just so happy to be out in the company of so many kind and supportive friends and volunteers.

As I wandered around the hypermart, I saw Mr Goh* and Mr Ali* adding the cost of their purchases onto their phone calculators. Mdm Tan* and Mdm Zaliah* showed their shopping list to the volunteers, who immediately went from aisle to aisle looking for the items. Yet another Mdm Choo* showed me an empty noodle packaging that she wanted us to find. Others like Mdm Soh* and Mr Koh* went to the fish section and agreed to share a whole fresh fish for S$60. They were well prepared with their cooler bags. It was heartening to see that our volunteers helped to maximise each patient’s purchase up to S$30.

After about 20 minutes, everyone headed to the checkout counters. I noticed that every of our wonderful volunteers, dipped into their own pockets to pay for the difference, whenever the total cost was more than S$30.

With their purchases on their laps and hanging on their wheelchair handles, the excited patients were lined up outside the checkout counters. One would have thought that that was the end of the shopping trip, but to their surprise, the management of the hypermart brought out over a hundred goody bags to gift to our patients. Everyone was given two bags and our volunteers helped to label the shopping and goody bags for our patients with their names. The General Manager of the hypermart also generously gave a personal donation directly to our patients for their spending.

Our patients thanked everyone with our very own HCA cheer and after a very large group photograph, each patient was transferred onto our vans to take them home.

I am so touched and amazed at the support and effort put in by every single volunteer, especially our GEM volunteer Anson. Without his donation of money, time, care and love for our patients, all this would never have been possible. Thank you Anson and team for the wonderful lunch and shopping trip for our patients!

*not their real names