PETALING JAYA: While still a child, Ric See’s parents would take him and his siblings to visit welfare homes on special occasions.
“We would buy groceries for the residents and during Chinese New Year, we would give them red packets.
“I didn’t think much of it back then as I was just following my parents. It was a norm for us to visit charity homes, ” he recalled.
What started out as a routine with his family eventually evolved into a sincere resolve to do good for the society.
See started the Great Heart Charity Association with his brother and a friend in 2010.
Three years later, they registered it as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
“Our main intention is to help people. We started off simple by buying groceries and delivering them to nursing homes and orphanages, ” he said.
After observing that many members of the public were already doing that, See and other volunteers then switched their focus to buying groceries for poor families, whom they got to know through word of mouth.
“Charity homes usually get support from the public but for underprivileged families, you can’t locate them via Google search, ” he said.
The first few years were tough with See having to convince friends and relatives to become volunteers.
He said he wanted to normalise a culture of charitable giving and one particular encounter cemented his vision.
“We were running the Hundred Wishes Project in 2014, in which 100 wishes of the underprivileged were published with the help of the media so that the public could fulfil them.
“Many wishes were to get items like a laptop or handphone, but one wish by an elderly man stood out. He just wanted a plate of wantan mee.“The reason was that he had been staying in an old folks home for many years and could not go out or ask someone to buy it for him, ” he said.See said he then gathered a group of volunteers to cook wantan mee, not just for the old man but for all the residents of the old folks home.
“People often think that charity is something you do only if you have excess money. But this elderly man showed us that even a simple act can be meaningful.
“The main objective of our charity programmes is to enable our beneficiaries to become self-sustaining and in the long-term, help others who are in need, ” he said.
The association now encompasses a wide range of programmes, including education for children, environmental awareness, dialysis subsidy, care for the elderly and coffin donations.
See said 2,000 to 3,000 volunteers helped out with their programmes in a year but like other NGOs, Great Heart Charity was greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were worried about our funding and ongoing programmes. We also wanted to help the B40 families who were badly affected, but we didn’t want to fundraise from individuals and corporations as everyone is struggling.
“Instead, we restructured our existing budget. We cut the allocation for programmes that were not so urgent and set up an emergency fund to help the needy, ” he said.
See said they then launched a campaign and reached out to B40 families to apply for the relief fund of RM200 for each household.
“We received more than 700 applications online and interviewed them over the phone. In the end, we spent around RM103,000 to support 517 households, ” he said.
“Although the amount of public donations dropped by 50%, the number of donors has doubled.
“Many people still called us during the movement control order period to ask how they could help. Malaysians really care and I am proud of this culture, ” he said.
For its efforts, Great Heart Charity is recognised as one of the 10 winners of Star Golden Hearts Award 2020, an annual award celebrating everyday Malaysian unsung heroes.