WHILE many are trying to be thrifty this coming Chinese New Year, old folks’ homes and orphanages are feeling the pinch as many are seeing lower contributions for the festive season.
At Home For The Aged (CWS) Simee in Ipoh, its chairman Vincent Lee said they were seeing an approximate 30% drop in donations in terms of cash and sundry items.
“The slowing economy is apparent when people are starting to be cautious with their spending.
“And it is going to be hard on homes like ours because we rely heavily on public donations,” he told MetroPerak.
As the home is currently caring for 42 senior citizens, Lee said their monthly expenses could easily cost up to RM30,000 a month.
“The residents, as we like to call them, are staying here free of charge and once we take them in, it is for life.
“However, we are only open to those who are single and those who are married but with no children,” he said.
Lee added that their yearly Chinese New Year programme usually consists of visits from organisations, well-wishers and political parties.
“They usually come in two weeks before and after the Chinese New Year holidays to distribute ang pow and essential items, but the ang pow will be kept by our residents instead of going to the home.
“We are only receiving a yearly grant of RM17,500 from the state Community Welfare Department and it would help us greatly if we had more help from the public,” he said.
Similarly at Persatuan Kebajikan Warga Tua Seri Bahagia Ipoh, its manager Tracy Hoo said there is a great difference in the contributions received compared to previous years.
“During festive seasons such as the upcoming Chinese New Year, we would receive more donations.
“But on regular days, it is significantly lower, especially when compared to better economic times,” she said.
In addition to the lack of contributions, Hoo noted that the home had only received one invitation from a major company and one invitation from an individual for Chinese New Year celebrations thus far.
“They would come with food for the elderly and accompany them during activities such as karaoke.
“But in the past, we would have more invitations than this by now,” she said.
Hoo also added that most of the funds from the public would go to building maintenance and purchasing essential items and clothes for the elderly.
Meanwhile, at Anning Children’s Home, its administrator Leong Yuit Fun said the home was also seeing less funds from the public for Chinese New Year.
“Back then, people would start giving the children ang pow from Jan 1.
“There would also be companies and banks making appointments with us to spend the festive holidays with the children, But this year, everything has been drastically reduced.
“This year, we can only afford to buy two new pieces of clothes each for the children. Last year, they could get four each,” she said.
Leong also said all 35 children at the home, aged two to 17, were already receiving formal education at schools and kindergartens.
“We need to fork out extra for those who need tuition classes to make sure that they are on track with their studies.
“Even though tuition centres have agreed to charge our children half the fees, we still need financial assistance from the public for maintenance and utility bills too,” she said.
Leong added that funds were urgently needed for the library cum hostel building next to their home, which is currently under construction.
Likewise at Ipoh Christian Centre (Agape Family), its founder, who only wished to be known as Pastor Micah, feared that contributions this year would be lower than last year.
“We were not receiving as much in total contributions last year as well and I think we are already seeing more than a 50% decrease this year.
“In terms of financial support, I think everyone is more careful with their spending because of economic uncertainty.
“Everybody is affected and as a charitable non-governmental organisation, we are always the ones who suffer the most because we depend on the public for funding,” he said.
Micah noted that the home used to look after almost 40 children, but because of financial constraints, there are only nine children now.
“We had to send the others home, but the remaining children come from other states and it would be inconvenient to send them home.
“Our home has always been low profile and with the lack of funds, we could not handle caring for so many boys,” he said.
As the home also deals with troubled teenagers, Micah said it was difficult to hire committed, full-time workers.
“It is a demanding job, because it is not easy. We do not do much fund-raising, but if the public could help us out, I am sure that we can ensure these boys will have better care at the home,” he said.