Fancy this? Pay what you want

Madam Fion Phua is now running a flea market and proceeds from sales will be used to top-up the Ez-link cards of needy students.

SINGAPORE - A safe, child car seats, and a mahjong set are items low-income families would not normally need.

But, Madam Fion Phua, who has a knack for unusual charity drives, wants you to donate impractical items anyway so that she can sell them at a flea market and raise money to top up the ez-link cards of children from needy families.

The response has been interesting - a man who drives a Lamborghini even donated Hello Kitty dolls.

Madam Phua, 43, who calls herself a one-woman charity, has been doing charity work since she was 19.

She owns Tee Up Marketing, a company that buys and sells club memberships.

In August, last year, she was featured in The New Paper because she offered her designer bags from Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada in exchange for bags of rice.

Madam Phua collected a whopping 6,435 bags of rice. Each bag of rice weighed 5kg, bringing the total weight to over 32 tonnes.

In 2010, she worked with Novotel Clarke Quay hotel to help get rid of 120 old beds and mattresses by getting volunteers to move them to the homes of those in need.

Last month, she came up with her latest idea and posted it on her Facebook page.

She asked her supporters, who are from all walks of life, to contribute items to the flea market at Kampung@Simpang Bedok hawker centre at Bedok Market Place.

Madam Phua said: "One guy in his 40s even drove down in a Lamborghini and brought with him 16 collectible Hello Kitty dolls.

She has already collected several hundred items, which are now on sale for whatever price you think is fair.

The items are displayed along a 10m stretch of wall and occupy a space the width of an HDB corridor at Kampung@Simpang Bedok.

Madam Phua said the money collected from the sales will be used to top-up the ez-link cards of needy pupils in her extensive database.

She said she does not have a fixed target and hopes to help as many needy primary school pupils as possible.

They are from families living in one-room flats in areas such as Jalan Bukit Merah, Henderson Road and Circuit Road.

So far, she has collected around $700. Bright idea

She said the idea to run a flea market came after she met up managing director of Best of Asia, Mr Lionel Lye, about a month ago.

Best of Asia, an F&B social enterprise, runs Kampung@ Simpang Bedok.

Madam Phua, seeing Mr Lye run his own flea market which benefits charities, was touched by the effort and decided to chip in and contribute.

She also said that a bigger flea market could potentially increase human traffic at the hawker centre.

She put up a message on Facebook about the flea market and in one week, 40 to 50 people contacted her, saying they had unwanted items to donate.

Madam Phua visits the flea market about twice a week and stays for a few hours each time to re-arrange her wares.

Donors drop their donations into tin cans placed at a nearby drink stall.

Although the stall is usually unmanned, the hawkers and operations officers are always around to ensure that no one steals from it.

Miss Foo Yong Peng, 19, who runs a nearby drink stall, said that whenever she sees anyone browsing through the wares, she will go forward to offer assistance.

She added that she volunteered to have the tin cans placed at her stall as she wants to play a more active role in the good cause.

She said: "So far, I haven't caught anyone trying to steal things from the flea market. But if I see anyone doing it, I will go up to him and tell him that it is for charity - he can give any amount. Ten cents, 50 cents also can. And if he still doesn't want to pay, I will not call the police. What's the point?"

Operations officer Mohd Zailanni Abdul Rahim, 47, shared the same sentiment.

Madam Phua said the flea market will continue to run until the end of the year as she does not want the flea market to become a "dumping ground" for unwanted goods should it continue for a longer period of time.

She intends to rope in the needy pupils' teachers and principals and ask for their assistance in taking care of the money for the pupils' ez-link cards.

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg

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