When Pastor Ivan Mohan and his church members collected unused electrical items to give to the needy as Christmas gifts in 2018, little did they realise that their effort would continue past the festive season.
Today, that initiative has grown into a regular project known as Furnish the Needy (FTN), meeting the needs of the underprivileged community in Puchong, Selangor.
“When the people who received the gifts in 2018 gave us feedback on how useful the items were to them, that opened our minds to how something that is not useful to one person is valuable to someone else in need, ” said Mohan, 36, who leads the Community Baptist Church (CBC) Kinrara in Puchong.
“When we reached out to the community, especially during the pandemic, we realised many of them don’t have the basic appliances and furniture in their homes. We also realised how expensive it can be to purchase furniture and electrical appliances these days, especially for the B40 group.
“So we took the opportunity to ask our CBC church members for unused items to be given away. To our surprise, many supported us with their preloved items, ” said Mohan.
FTN started in November last year and, as of February, has furnished over 30 families with sofa sets, bed sets, dining tables, TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and smaller electrical items like fans and rice cookers.
The families are identified through another food project that the church is involved in.
“We do Community Feeding through What A Waste (an NGO that collects surplus food from hotels, restaurants, mixed rice outlets and anyone with unsold food at the end of the day and channels it directly to the needy) on weekends.
“We get in touch with the AJKs (committee members) of PPR (People’s Housing Project) low-cost flats situated in Puchong and from there, we identify the needs of the people and support them accordingly, ” he shared.
Mohan and his team of volunteers are thankful for the warm support shown to FTN thus far.
“Response has been overwhelming. People are genuinely and generously willing to give and they are glad when someone is blessed with their preloved items and to see a smile on their face.
“Some of them are not hesitant to fork out their own money for the transportation cost. And some even take the time to drive and give out the items on behalf of FTN, ” said Mohan, adding that the things most needed by the families are sofa sets, bed sets, washing machines, refrigerators, TVs and laptops for students.
Their biggest challenge is keeping transportation costs – which are mostly borne by the church – low.
“Secondly, due to insufficient space for storage, we are unable to pick up the items immediately. Therefore we need to look for the most suitable recipient and then only pick up the items.
“This could be troublesome for some donors as they might be shifting house, or some other new appliance or furniture is coming in and they need to clear off the items as soon as possible, ” explained Mohan.
Sorting out the donated items also takes time and effort.
“We need to see if there are any repairs involved as we try our best to give items that are still in good working condition.”
Looking ahead, Mohan said they hope to expand the project to the public to generate more contributions, publicity and support.
“We also have plans to open up a storage and a second-hand shop, where the money we earn from selling the preloved items to the public can help the needy community in terms of educational supplies and provide a better home for them to live in, ” he said.