Spend $100 on toys? No

SINGAPORE - Give any child $100, and he would probably spend it all on goodies or toys. Not 11-year-old Lim Zhi Hao.

Recently, The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF) beneficiary was given $100 in vouchers to shop for whatever he wanted at shopping malls United Square and Velocity@ Novena Square.

Instead of getting toys for himself, the Primary 6 pupil from St Anthony's Primary School chose to get groceries because "my family needs it more".

The event, Shop-For-A-Wish Day, was organised by the Singapore Retailers Association, MasterCard and the two shopping malls.

It was for 100 SPMF beneficiaries from five disbursing agencies - Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre (FSC), THK FSC @ Bedok North, Pertapis Children's Home, Fei Yue FSC at Bukit Batok and Whispering Hearts FSC.

With the vouchers, Zhi Hao bought soft drinks, eggs, a tin of Milo, flour and "some beer for my father", among other things, he later told this reporter.

Surprised

Ms Vimala Devi, a programme executive from Fei Yue FSC who accompanied Zhi Hao on the shopping trip, told The New Paper: "He was the only kid who took groceries during the shopping spree... I was surprised by this. He later said he did it because his family deserved the treat more than him."

When TNP visited the boy at his family's three-room Bukit Batok flat on Friday, the boy was sheepish about his good deed, saying that practical things were better than toys.

He lives with his father, Mr Lim Kwan Song, 53, and 15-yearold sister Lim Qing Yu.

Mr Lim said he was touched by his son's gesture. "I asked him why he didn't spend the money on toys," said the cleaner, who earns $1,200 each month.

"But he just told me 'no'. He said his plan all along was to buy stuff for the family," said Mr Lim in Mandarin.

His sister Qing Yu, however, was less than pleased by Zhi Hao's selflessness.

"I wasn't happy when he brought home the groceries," said the Secondary 2 student from Assumption Pathway School.

"He should have thought of himself. Now where is he going to find money to buy pens for school and all that?"

With an impish smile, Zhi Hao replied: "Actually, I picked a lot more stuff, but I had to cut it down because I was over the budget by $200. I then decided that the money was better used if my family can enjoy (what I buy)."

But no good deed goes unrewarded.

TNP has learnt that the SPMF team and Ms Vimala will be celebrating Zhi Hao's 12th birthday this Thursday with a birthday cake and some sponsored gifts from well-wishers, which include stationery and supermarket shopping vouchers.

SPMF started in October 2000 as a community project by The Straits Times to provide pocket money to children from lowincome families to help them through school.

Since then, SPMF has disbursed school pocket money to students through the National Council of Social Service's network of family service centres, special schools and children's homes.

SPMF, which was established as a charity in November 2011, has 67 disbursing agencies across Singapore.

Each primary, secondary and post-secondary student receives $55, $90 and $120 per month respectively.

For the first half of this year, SPMF disbursed pocket money in more than 10,500 cases.

The fund has helped in more than 115,000 cases of needy children and young people since its inception.


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