SEREMBAN: Swimming instructor Irene Hisham began setting aside RM10 from the monthly fees she receives from each student about two years ago to help the needy.
The retiree felt that her small contribution would go a long way to help the less fortunate to put food on the table for their loved ones.
This act of “giving a little of what you have” soon caught up with her friends at the Flying Eagles Swimming Club and, together, they began helping the less fortunate.
When the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, they thought of ways to help more people, especially those who lost their jobs as companies either closed or downsized.
They set up unmanned “food banks” at strategic locations so that those in need could get access to dry rations and other basic essentials.
These food banks were actually plastic storage cabinets placed near flats or shophouses so that the needy could take whatever was available without anyone having to know.
“The beautiful part is that when we set up these food banks, strangers came and replenished them without us knowing.
“This showed that there were people out there who were also prepared to give whatever little they could afford to help a stranger in need, ” she said when contacted.
Irene said people would donate a range of essentials including rice, sardine, sugar, noodles, flour, cooking oil, eggs, soft drinks and even toiletries which they leave inside these cabinets located at strategic locations in Centrio S2, Garden Homes, Garden Avenue, Rasah Jaya and Kampung Pasir. The group plans to open a sixth food bank in Taman Layang Layang soon.
Irene said her team would go around regularly to check on these cabinets to ensure they were well stocked.
“We tell our friends they are more than welcome to contribute even if it’s just packets of anchovies, tamarind, sugar or anything else or even something they no longer need.
“We do not ask for 10kg of rice or flour. A kilo or even less is more than enough, ” she said, adding that this was probably what attracted many to come forward to play their part.
Irene, whose team has also helped raise funds to build a home for a man whose house was destroyed during floods last November, said her students’ parents who came to know of the group’s work have also started contributing.
“Some have become regular donors. Sometimes, it can get a little embarrassing because they keep giving even when we do not ask, ” she added.
For those interested to help can reach out to Irene via Facebook or 018-271 0512.