Donations at Changi from 80 countries

A rare sight to most here, currencies such as the Belarusian ruble, the Seychellois rupee and the Papua New Guinean kina have been making their way into donation boxes at Changi Airport.

Along with other uncommon denominations such as the Brazilian real, the Angolan kwanza, the Ukrainian hryvnia and the Barbadian dollar.

In all, travellers have donated currencies from more than 80 countries into the 33 donation boxes spread across the three airport terminals.

These foreign currencies - the top five received are euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, British pound and Hong Kong dollar - make up about a fifth of the contributions. Changi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Changi Airport Group (CAG) which took over the donation boxes from the Community Chest in July last year, matches the donations dollar for dollar.

From last August to December, it collected about $123,000 in donations, after adding in its matching funds. From January to July this year, the figure stands at $90,600. But this does not yet include foreign currencies, which have to be sent to Australia-based currency exchange specialist CoinCo International.

The firm, which sends a representative to Singapore to collect the donations, exchanges the money into Singapore dollars before sending it back to the foundation.

CAG assistant vice-president for corporate development and international relations Ng Bee Kay said this was necessary since currencies from several countries, such as the small island-nation of Vanuatu, cannot be exchanged here.

Donations are collected from the 33 boxes, which are placed in high-traffic areas such as near the airport gardens, once every two months by officers from Certis Cisco and the Changi Foundation.

The funds raised are used to support 114 young people from the Institute of Technical Education and Care Singapore. Programmes supported by the funding include the ITE monthly financial assistance scheme and overseas student exchange programme. Said Ms Ng: "Changi Foundation will continue to develop and organise programmes to help give meaningfully back to society."

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