The Star staff volunteer at street feeding station

Treat them just like how you would treat your guest at home.”

This was what we were told at the briefing before serving food to the underprivileged at the YMCA in Brickfields last Saturday.

Eighteen employees from different departments of The Star took part in the street-feeding activity along with other volunteers in conjunction with the cheque presentation by The Star’s executive director and group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

He presented a cheque for RM50,000, the sum being the nett proceeds from the first print run of his book On the Beat, to the Kenosis drug rehabilitation centre.

Susan Yong, a volunteer who has been helping out at the street feeding programme, gave The Star team a briefing on the do’s and don’ts when serving the visually-impaired.

“When serving a visually-impaired person, tap him or her on the shoulder and guide their hand to the cutlery and cup,” she advised.

The feeding station serves food to the homeless, people with disabilities and drug addicts.

Sagayanathan John Rayappan, 38, a visually-impaired freelance masseuse, has been coming to the feeding station at YMCA since two years ago after his friend told him about it.

“The volunteers are very friendly and I enjoy my time here,” he said.

According to Pastor Richard Lee, it is important to treat the underprivileged with dignity.

“We do not give but serve them food. For those who come here, they have two hours of peace, a chance to enjoy a meal and songs in a friendly and warm atmosphere.

“We have received so many calls after the street-feeding programme was highlighted in The Star that I had to tell them to come the following week. However, even if we have enough volunteers, they are welcome to come and have a feel of how the activity is carried out,” he said.

The street feeding is also carried out in Pudu every Monday, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm and near the Pasar Seni LRT station every Thursday, from 7.30pm to 9pm.

Aside from Trinity Methodist Church, other churches also chip in to help and they also have volunteers. The Boys Brigade and Methodist College students also volunteer their services.

“Methodist College students have to carry out a 20-hour social community project. However, even after they have completed the required hours, many still return to help.

“(Through the street feeding activity), young people can learn how to appreciate life and learn that if you do not take care of yourself, this (being in the streets, doing drugs) is where you might end up,” he said.

Norman Wong from the 2nd Subang Jaya Boys Brigade Company is no stranger to volunteerism.

This is his second time helping out at the feeding station. He has taken part in other volunteer projects, including teaching English to children at Rumah Hope.

“This is one of the Boys Brigade’s community service programme, we have different teams and take turn each week to volunteer here.

“We learn how to serve God in different ways,” the 17-year-old said, adding that, “It is an eye-opener as I get to see people from all walks of life.

“I will not stop coming just because of SPM, I will still come back to help even after we choose a different charity organisation to help out next year.”

Paul David from Trinity Methodist Church said he first saw Pastor Lee and volunteers handing out food to the needy in Petaling Street in 2007 and it left an impression on him.

YMCA provided space for the street feeding. When the street feeding began, there were only 20 people, now they feed 120 to 130 people every Saturday.

“We started the street feeding programme in August 2007 and has not stopped since. We serve food every Saturday, even on public holidays.

“The street feeding programme is part of our Samaritan Ministry.

“We also run a medical clinic in Kepong for Myanmar refugees and a Trinity Centre in Brickfields where the street people can take a bath,” he said.

The church also hand out food to street people at Pasar Seni every Thursday 7.30pm with their mobile kitchen via a truck donated by a church member.

“Profits from the church’s Menorah Café are channelled to the street feeding and church members can also donate directly to the programme.

“It costs RM100,000 a year for the street feeding. Other churches also help out,” Paul said.

According to Star Publications (M) Bhd deputy group chief marketing officer Angelina Villanueva, the visit was also part of the ‘Do Good. Volunteer’ Cam­paign initiated by The Star.

“The aim of the initiative is to promote volunteerism in Malaysia. We will launch a volunteer-matching portal in June.

“There are those are want to be a volunteer but do not know where to go to and there are organisations that need help but cannot find volunteers, hence the portal will link volunteers to charity organisations that need help,” she said.

This portal is targeted to be launched in June but you can pre-register now.

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