Perhaps you have slotted your change in the donation boxes at Aeon stores, or perhaps you have never noticed them.
But Malaysians are certainly a generous lot and they dropped in an average of RM25,000 of their spare change in these donation boxes every month.
“In the current economic situation, the fund for charity has dropped slightly but the public is still generous,” said Malaysian Aeon Foundation (MAF)’s vice-president Shinobu Washizawa.
To date, the foundation has collected RM16mil. It also raises about RM2.5mil annually.
“We want to contribute to the prosperity of the local community. Children are the treasure of the country and local community. We donate to schools, support education and give medical support to handicapped children,” said Washizawa.
The Malaysian Aeon Foundation started with a one-off charity event in 1999. With its success, Aeon set up With All Our Hearts Charity Fund two years later but officially launched it in 2004 as the Malaysian Jusco Foundation with the tagline, With All Our Heart, in conjunction with Aeon’s 20th Anniversary celebration.
In 2010, it was renamed the Malaysian Aeon Foundation, following the rebranding of Jusco to Aeon in Malaysia.
MAF is an entity that runs charity events and community services under the Aeon group, focusing on education, improving living environment and medical care.
“We also raise funds to support disaster victims. Our fundraising efforts are not just by our company but we also involve our customers and suppliers,” added Washizawa.
MAF’s initiatives are in line with the Aeon Group’s principle of pursuing peace, which means respecting human dignity and valuing personal relationships.
The group is rooted in local community life and dedicated to making a continuing contribution to the community.
“We want to build a good relationship with the local community. We want to contribute to them and maintain a peaceful society,” said Washizawa.
Aeon group has 300 subsidiary companies in Japan, China and South-East Asia.
“In Japan, our businesses include retail, financial services for shopping centre development, drug stores and pharmacies, and service and specialty stores,” said Washizawa.
Aeon helps relieve financial burdens of underprivileged individuals, families and non-profit organisations, in line with its goal of helping those in need. Its companies have different methods to generate funds for charity.
In Japan, every Aeon company contributes 1% of their profit to charity. In Malaysia, Aeon helps to collect public funds for charity, explains Washizawa.
They have raised funds through charity events like Charity Golf Tournament, MAF Charity Gala Dinner, business partner donation and collection boxes from Aeon Mall, Aeon stores and Aeon Big outlets, as well as online donation.
The foundation has identified “key pillars” to channel donations collected; they are education, medical and living environment.
The foundation’s activities range from inviting single mothers and children to experience a fun shopping day out at Aeon malls to disaster relief operations such as helping families rebuild their homes to giving aid to the orang asli.
The foundation works with the Education Ministry on its BEST (which stands for Basic Education Support) Project which provides basic educational needs to schoolchildren in selected schools nationwide.
It believes that transforming the school environment (with clean and decent decor and appropriate learning tools) can improve students’ participation and concentration in class and create a conducive learning space.
MAF has invested RM1.3mil on this programme, benefitting 14 schools since it was introduced in 2012.
The project involved the refurbishment and repair of school facilities including construction of a multipurpose court, restoration of faulty electrical system, upgrading of libraries and computer room, and purchase of equipment and furniture for a room dedicated to special needs children.
To help those in need of medical assistance, MAF’s initiatives include supporting medical operation, cochlear implant operation, donation of oxygen concentrators, food supplements and daily medical needs, as well as providing physio and occupational therapies.
The foundation’s latest project is the Light up Lives project for the orang asli in Kampung Rako Baru, Cameron Highlands, Pahang.
Some RM100,000 was spent to build and install 60 solar panel lights in the village in March this year. A group of 38 volunteers, including Aeon staff and university students, helped to build and install the lights in the village. They also distributed groceries to 40 families.
Washizawa is glad that “customers are cooperative and supportive” of the foundation’s charity activities and events.
He said: “We have reached out to countless cases (of people in need) and have seen positive results from assistance given. We strongly believe in enriching and improving the living conditions of the underprivileged communities in Malaysia and have also taken a step to improving the lives of the orang asli community. It is a small step but definitely a beginning for us.”