The Press

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Lianhe Zaobao Feature - February 2018

'For others and self, Dream what you do.' /'Uniting volunteers, and sharing love.'
智勇双全, Resourceful


Emily Teng leads more than 100 volunteers who work with children and youths in Singapore. 

Emily started the non-profit 'Blessings in a Bag' 10 years ago, which collected donations in kind for children in need in Asia and Singapore. In recent years, she and a team of volunteers have started the project 'Beyond Awesome' which provides after-school care for needy children aged 6-15.

Emily is always smiling, and she projects enthusiasm. When asked to introduce herself, she says other than being a social entrepreneur, she is a Chief of Awesome!

Former DJ Emily shares that Blessings in a Bag began when she wanted to do something meaningful for the less fortunate one Christmas. 

Emily started Blessings in a Bag first through friends who donated pre-loved goods. Over the years, she has worked with many charities and social organisations to send donations as needed to different parts of Asia. 

It was this initial act of kindness which opened a door for Emily. Afterward as the project expanded, she used crowdsourcing to connect people flying to different parts of Asia with communities in need. Volunteers would pick up donations and ferry them to various local communities. 

Over the years, she has sent over ten thousand tons of donations to various communities in Asia. 

Starting a non-profit organisation is easy but longevity is difficult. To keep things running, Emily once held 6 jobs, and the workload resulted in her having to be hospitalised. However, she felt that 'the children need me more' and she eventually quit her job to run Blessings in a Bag full-time. 

Emily uses social media to engage with others and encourage them to do good together with other volunteers. Word-of-mouth, Instagram and Facebook has allowed her to reach many people. She shares, 'We have many big-hearted supporters who take initiative to help and support us such as rent.' In addition, she has launched micro-fundraising campaigns for her cause in the range of 300-500 dollars each to keep them going. She shares, 'Even if it's just five or ten dollars people are able to support our cause and make a difference.' 

Over the years, Blessings in a Bag has expanded to not just support communities through donations in kind. In the last two years, Emily Teng and a team of volunteers have started 'Beyond Awesome' which is an after-school care programme for under-resourced children. Beyond Awesome runs every thursday and saturday, and activities include Art, story writing/telling and company visits. 

Emily shares that the group of children and youths they serve come from under-resourced families. Often, due to unavoidable reasons or long working hours, parents are less able to participate in caring and guide their children as they grow. 

'We hope to be cheerleaders as our students grow.' Emily says their biggest challenge is recruiting volunteers to serve long term. 'Only through having committed volunteers will we be able to create a safe and stable environment for our students.'

Emily mainly uses social media to share opportunities with people who want to serve, and to allow them to develop their strengths and interests. She once received a letter where a volunteer shared that he found meaning through volunteering and decided against taking his life. Emily realised 'We as volunteers and the children we serve can support and cheer each other on.'

It is these emotional connections that make so many volunteers give so much to the cause. More than a hundred volunteers have participated to serve others through Blessing in a Bag and some have even served for the past five years. 

Emily's 10 years of determination has let her achieve this 'Mission Impossible'. She says,' If it was not for keeping on all these years, we wouldn't have that much support to let us continue doing what we do.' Emily plans for Blessings in a Bag to become a social enterprise to allow the organisation to have more stable sources of income. Her wish for the new year is for more children and youths will benefit from Beyond Awesome.