Hundreds of sports shoes donated to migrant workers

WHEN a call went out on Facebook on August 17, hundreds of people responded and donated used and new sneakers to a nonprofit organization for migrant workers.

Over five days, hundreds of shoes were dropped off at 12 collection points – the homes of ItsRainingRaincoats volunteers – across the city.

The donation campaign was launched by ItsRainingRaincoats after realizing that many migrant workers did not have sports shoes when it organized a sports day with activities such as paintball, archery and sessions of dance.

Its founder Dipa Swaminathan, 50, said: “We have been inundated with sports shoes. For years we have been collecting pre-loved items because we believe in compassion as well as sustainability.

“We don’t want people throwing away things they don’t need but migrant workers need but can’t afford.”

About 50 workers received the donated shoes during a drive-through distribution at construction sites on August 20, and more than 20 migrant workers put the shoes to good use during the August 21 sports day.

Undistributed shoes are placed in InspIRRe, the association’s new space in Upper Paya Lebar which will be launched on September 3rd.

Migrant workers can pick up free items from this space, which invites the public to donate items such as bags, mattresses, fans and rice cookers.

Panneerparthiban, 33, a migrant worker who received a pair of shoes and participated in the sports day, said he liked the shoes and planned to wear them on weekends and exercise.

He said he could not afford sports shoes as he earned 900 Singapore dollars (RM2,880) a month and sent around 650 Singapore dollars (RM2,080) to his family back home.

Dipa said many of the sneakers donated were of good quality and included brands such as Nike, Adidas, Vans and Converse.

Some donors even bought new shoes for the migrant workers.

One of ItsRainingRaincoats’ regular donors, Sudha Rani Belalla, 39, who has donated shoes and hand luggage in the past, said, “I think the shoes will give them good support to walk further.”

The IT professional added that his family picks items from their homes to donate to the needy once a month because his father instilled in him the importance of giving back, even if they weren’t wealthy.

Another donor and volunteer, Neera Gupta, 45, said she had donated shoes, clothes and other items to migrant workers in the past.

As a volunteer, she opened her home to collect donated items and sometimes went to donors’ homes to pick up items.

The visionary director of Global Influencers Publishing House said: “Sometimes my house looks like a Salvation Army collection center.

“But it’s a small commitment compared to the joy we can bring them and all the migrant brothers do for us in Singapore.” —The Straits Times/ANN