'Kindness tree', food drive for the needy among student-led initiatives that bag Kindess Awards

SINGAPORE – When Covid-19 showed no sign of letting up in June last year, Utkarsh Choudhary, 12, and Mathangi Gowri Sankar and Nityasri Brinda, both 13, became worried about low-income people facing food shortages.

The trio from DPS International School, together with seven friends from school, decided to collect food donations from their schoolmates to donate to food charity Food from the Heart for distribution to the needy.

To raise awareness on the harms of food waste and ways to reduce it, they engaged their peers in interactive presentations, including competitions, poster and mascot-making sessions.

Over several weeks, the team led by Utkarsh, Mathangi and Nityasri collected 135 packets of rice, 138 packets of bee hoon and 183 packets of biscuits, among other foods such as cooking oil, instant noodles and canned food from the student body.

Food From the Heart said the donations would be sent to an aged-care facility. 

The group was among the 75 schools and more than 1,300 students and teachers recognised at a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday (Jan 18) for playing a part in promoting kindness.

Organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement, the Annual School Kindness Awards aim to cultivate kindness in schools and recognise students and teachers who have championed kindness in their communities.

Speaking at the event, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said: “The long shadow of Covid-19 has undoubtedly challenged many of us. Some among us are stressed, anxious, frustrated and even burnt out.

“I am heartened that many Singaporeans like you have chosen to look beyond yourself, to show care, compassion, and kindness to people around you, during this extraordinary period.”

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Among the other winners was a team from Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, which rolled out an Instagram campaign to promote a kampung spirit among Singaporeans.

Illustrations with two mascots were used to encourage people to initiate simple acts of neighbourliness, such as holding the lift for others.

Team leaders Nicole Emily Thomas and Lim Zi Xiu Jazzy, both aged 15, said the project was inspired by a desire to counteract the lack of interaction between neighbours due to the pandemic.

Another award winner was pupil Asher Koh, 13, who started a “kindness tree” at St Hilda’s Primary School. Schoolmates can pen notes on a kind act that they did, received, or saw on “leaves”, which they paste on the tree in the school canteen.


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