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The Straits Times launches its third Pocket Money Fund campaign

Please thank the people at The Straits Times for me. My children would have had nothing to eat at recess if not for them. - Security guard Madialagam Seenivasagam, 50, whose three children, aged 10, 12 and 14, receive $1 a day from the School Pocket Money Fund.

I used to get nothing so $1 a day really helps. Thank you very much. - Ahmad Rais, 9, a beneficiary.

SINGAPORE, September 30, 2002 - The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which has helped more than 5,000 needy schoolchildren, kicks off its third annual three-month campaign tomorrow (October 1) and aims to raise $3 million this year.

With the higher unemployment rate in Singapore, the National Council of Social Services (NCSS), which administers the fund, estimates that 2,000 more students will apply to the fund in the next 12 months, bringing the number of children who need support to over 7,200.

Ms Tina Hung, NCSS director of service development, said: "Low-income families get hit the hardest because they tend to have lower education and fewer skills. They need help. We are grateful that The Straits Times has decided to continue with The School Pocket Money Fund."

The fund was initiated on Children’s Day on October 1, 2000, to raise public awareness on the plight of children from low-income families who often go to school without pocket money for bus fare or to buy food during recess.

It raised $1.3 million in the first year to help 3,258 children, and $2.5 million last year for 5,150 kids, from donations from individuals, companies and orgnisations and other fund-raising activities.

Children helped by the fund get between $30 and $50 a month.

It is this sense of community spirit which helped The Straits Times clinch the Newspaper of the Year, a prestigious award given by the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association in August.

To get the fund-raising ball rolling, staff of The Straits Times will be forgoing lunch tomorrow (Oct 1) to wash cars and raise funds.

Led by The Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang, they will be at the Caltex Snowash outlet at Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 to wash any car which drives into the petrol kiosk.

Caltex has kindly agreed to donate proceeds of the car wash to the fund. So any car which drives into any Caltex Snowash outlet from tomorrow (oct 1) till Sunday (Oct 6) will see proceeds from the car wash go to the School Pocket Money Fund.

Singapore Press Holdings staff will also be having a flag day on October 22.

Said Mr Han: "The Pocket Money Fund is a wonderful way of helping those in need, especially during these difficult times, and we won’t be shy of using the reach and influence of The Straits Times because this is such a worthy cause."

Those interested in donating can do so by:
1. Cheque
Make out a cheque to "School Pocket Money Fund’’ and send it to Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, School Pocket Money Fund, Finance Division, 1000 Toa
Payoh North, Singapore 318994.

2. Phone
Call The School Pocket Money Fund hotline on 1900-914-0005 ($5 donation) and 1900-914-0010 ($10). All phone charges are kindly sponsored by DBS
Bank.

3. With points
Redeem your Caltex Thanks! points and DBS Perk$ for cash donations to the fund or make your contribution through DBS internet banking. Donations of more than $10 are tax-deductible.

Details of the School Pocket Money Fund and its selection criteria are attached below:

ABOUT THE STRAITS TIMES SCHOOL POCKET MONEY FUND

The School Pocket Money Fund was initiated by The Straits Times on Children’s Day (October 1) 2000 to heighten public awareness of the plight of children from low-income families who were attending school without proper breakfast or pocket money to sustain their day in school.

The aim is to alleviate the financial burden faced by parents in providing for their children’s education. At the same time the funds will help children who are already facing difficulties in remaining in school to stay on.

Members of the public including schools and corporations in the public and private sector, responded generously after reading stories highlighting children especially those from single parent families who were most affected.

In its first year, donations from the public amounted to just over $1.3 million. And in its second year, donations amounted to more than $2.5 million that went on to support more than 6,000 kids who had applied for the fund.

How is the fund disbursed?

The National Council of Social Services, which administers the funds, makes quarterly disbursements to agencies, such as the Family Service Centres (FSC), Special schoolss and Children’s Homes to benefit their eligible clients.

Currently 34 FSCs, 22 Special Schools and 14 Children’s Homes have been commissioned to administer the scheme.

Agencies’ approval is based on set of eligibility criteria and assessment of the family’s financial situation. Based on the assessment of the case, social workers recommend the disbursement.

The approval of either the Director of the Family Service Centre, Principal
of a Special School or Head of a home is required for each application.

How much does a beneficiary receive?

The amount disbursed is as follows:

Primary Level $30 per month
Secondary, ITE & Pre-U Level $50 per month

Disbursement of the pocket money to the beneficiary is done on a monthly basis, up to 10 months per school year. Administering agencies are still receiving fresh applications as more needy families are identified.

What is the eligibility criteria?

To apply for the School Pocket Money Fund the applicant (i.e. the child)
must be:

A Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
A full time student
From a low-income family (gross household income not exceeding $1,500 per month)
Live in a HDB 4-room flat or smaller

Known case or beneficiary of one of the following:
Family Service Centre, Special School, Children’s Home or any Welfare scheme such as Public Assistance, Rent and Utilities Assistance Scheme (RUAS) or General Welfare Fund

For those who want to apply for the fund, please call 1800-838 0100.


Issued by the Singapore Press Holdings Limited

For more information, please contact:

Peter Khoo
Assistant Vice President, Branding
The Straits Times
Tel: 63195512
Email: pkhoo@sph.com.sg


Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited is the leading news and information provider, offering quality content for print, Internet, TV and radio. It is licensed to publish 11 newspapers in the four official languages and six lifestyle periodicals. Everyday, SPH newspapers reach 2.68 million individuals or 89 percent of persons above 15 years old in Singapore while online publication of its six main dailies enjoy some 120 million pageviews a month. SPH has ventured into the broadcast medium and operates two popular free-to-air TV channels, Channel U in Chinese and Channel i in English.