Americans give out over 300 care packs to needy residents in Singapore to mark Biden's inauguration

The event was organised by the American Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of Singapore.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A group of Americans living in Singapore distributed more than 300 care packs to needy families at a rental block here, as part of events leading up to the Jan 20 inauguration of United States President-elect Joe Biden.

The Monday (Jan 18) morning distribution drive was part of a National Day of Service in the US organised by the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) for Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

It was the first such initiative to be organised outside of the US in collaboration with the PIC, said Mr Steven Okun, governor of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Singapore.

The event was organised by AmCham and the American Association of Singapore (AAS).

"The PIC called upon Americans to serve their communities across the US. With much of the world watching what will be one of the most important US inaugurals ever, we want to show that the new beginning for the United States will be global," said Mr Okun, a senior advisor at global strategic consultancy McLarty Associates.

AmCham chief executive Dr Hsien-Hsien Lei added: "AmCham member companies represent the best of American business values: free enterprise, fairness, creativity, respect for people from diverse backgrounds, and optimism.

"We are happy to show our continued commitment in giving back to the Singapore community."

The distribution drive was part of a National Day of Service in the US organised by the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The packs, purchased with about $10,200 donated over the past week by Americans living here, consisted of rice, Milo, detergents and toiletries.

About 35 volunteers were joined by AmCham's staff and board, as well as members of AAS' leadership.

One of the recipients, 68-year-old Lim Hay Tong, said the items would help him save on expenses, especially as he can no longer work after suffering a stroke.

Another recipient, 64-year-old Ms Tinamany A. Raman, said she treasures the gifts and would use them slowly according to her needs.

Ms Jamilah Sanif, 76, who was with three friends at the block's void deck, said they were grateful to receive the items.

AAS president Blair Hall said: "The American Association has a long tradition of charitable and volunteer service contributing to health, environmental and social welfare efforts in the greater Singapore community in which its members thrive."

The annual day of service falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday in the US. It was first observed in 1986 in memory of the civil rights hero.

Since 1994, Americans have been encouraged to commemorate the day through acts of service.

The packs, purchased with about $10,200 donated over the past week by Americans living here, consisted of rice, Milo, detergents and toiletries.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The move to include it as part of Mr Biden's inauguration activities follows in former President Barack Obama's footsteps.

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on the third Monday of January - close to the customary Presidential inauguration date of Jan 20 - Mr Obama observed the day as part of his 2008 and 2013 inauguration activities.

Dr James Andrade, 64, a senior vice president at Capitaland, was one of the volunteers distributing the car packs.

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The American said: "This is not a once-off event for our community, and it's nice to do something on a more personal level.

"We do this in the spirit of Martin Luther King , who was someone who gave back. We also want to give back to a country that has given so much to us."

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction