By Sabine Chen
Imagine a row of your colleagues standing in a neat factory-line, some chopping carrots, others cutting capsicums into bite-sized pieces. Everyone wears their own pristine white apron and the same stock expression of joy. Some of them toss the vegetables into a pot of stew, whilst others slice perfect pieces of fish and celery.
Apparently, this is not what a soup kitchen looks like.
Willing Hearts is a secular, non-affiliated charity. It runs a soup kitchen that prepares and distributes about 5,000 meals daily to beneficiaries such as the elderly, low income families, and migrant workers. It also offers other services to its beneficiaries such as Chinese medicinal treatments, tuition services for schoolgoing children, and optical care.
Alpha7 volunteered at the Willing Hearts soup kitchen today (14 October). Some of us had never been to one, myself included. The aforementioned vision was what I thought we’d be doing, only the reality was vastly different. We arrived at Willing Hearts at around nine in the morning, anticipating the tasks that lay ahead.
Turns out we only had one – peeling onions. We were ushered to an open space already crammed full of volunteers, where we were given a handful of knives and sacks full of onions. So we got to work. It wasn’t back-breaking stuff, but I soon came to realise how wearisome it could be. After just two hours of patiently hacking away at tiny onions, I felt the morning heat intensifying.
Besides us, there were volunteers who bustled around cleaning the floors and preparing food for the next day’s cooking. I marvelled at those who gave their time freely to work at the soup kitchen. To spend hours cherry-picking from bags of vegetables, peeling, washing, and cooking – it could only be sheer kindness that spurred volunteers on to put in their hours.
Surrounded by the raucous warmth of the place, and a flurry of bad puns from colleagues, four hours of work felt considerably more bearable. When I learnt that Willing Heart’s vision is to improve the lives of the underprivileged and marginalised by providing them with their “daily bread”, I received a crucial reminder that we are truly blessed – being privileged enough to consider food a negligible necessity in our lives.
In order to enhance the spirit that volunteering advocates – one of generosity and altruism – we’re given 7 days of paid leave to do volunteering. I find that Alpha7’s familial atmosphere reflects just that, creating value for people inside and outside of the business. If you’d like to find out more about what we do, drop us an email! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn to receive updates on our articles.