Family sets up vending machine outside Siglap home for deliverymen, garbage collectors to get free drinks

SINGAPORE – Siglap resident Eric Chiam and his family have set up a soft-drinks vending machine outside their house for food deliverymen and other workers to help themselves to a free drink.

Installed in January, the machine in the first month dispensed 637 drinks to food deliverymen, the postman, and just about anyone who shows up at the Chiam house in Yarrow Gardens on a work errand.

Dr Chiam, 51, is a general practitioner who, with his family, wanted to find a way of offering a cold drink to people who came to the house to deliver food or the mail – even when they were not at home.

He said: “We use a lot of delivery services as a family. We typically try to offer drinks to the delivery workers, but we are not always able to meet them at the gate.”

So Dr Chiam and his wife, with their 15-year-old triplets Andre, Ethan, Sophia, in November last year came up with the vending machine idea that they call TYVMdrinks or Thank You Very Much drinks.

“We do this because it is a way for us to thank them for bringing us food at all times, under the hot sun and in the rain, especially since it is now the monsoon season,” said Dr Chiam.

The project is a family affair.

The children are largely in charge of planning and marketing. Andre planned the project, Ethan designed the vending machine logo and stickers using graphic design platform Canva, and Sophia helms the Instagram account.

Meanwhile, Dr Chiam funds the project and his wife Lisa Chen, 51, who is also a general practitioner, selects the drinks and puts in the orders. 

Setting up and decorating the vending machine cost about $3,000, and the drinks cost less than $0.50 each.

Besides taking turns to top up the vending machine twice a week, the family often discusses over meals the number and types of drinks to buy as well as ways to make the project better.

One way to improve the project, Dr Chiam said, is to set up a pay-it-forward system so that others can also chip in to buy drinks for these delivery workers. 


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