Three children handed $500 to Mr Neo Chwee Eng, the elderly yong tau foo seller – whose stall at Block 493 Jurong West Street 41 was destroyed in the fire last Tuesday (11 October). Most of the money come from the children’s savings.
Trinity Ong (10), her brothers Noah (8), and Caspar (5), and their parents were among the 20 readers who contacted The New Paper last week to offer to help Mr Neo.
On Sunday, the family visited the 81-year-old Mr Neo at his two-room flat in Jurong West to hand him the money in an envelope.
Mr Neo said that he don’t know how to thank the children.
Trinity first heard about the fire when her mother showed her the TNP report on Mr Neo. Instantly she said she wanted to help.
She said, “At his age, he should have retired. It’s very tough for uncle to continue working.”
Trinity, a student at Cantonment Primary School said her grandparents about the age of Mr Neo, had not worked for the past 10 years.
When Trinity showed her two brothers the article, they immediately took money out from their piggy banks.
Their mother, Madam Angela Lee, said: “Trinity asked me, ‘How do we find the uncle? We have to find him and help him’.” Then Her husband, Mr Ong, contacted TNP.
Madam Lee said, “I told them to give an amount they’re comfortable with, but they ended up giving everything in their piggy bank savings. “It amounted to $325.60, and my husband and I topped it up to $500.”
Trinity, who wants to be a doctor, reportedly said, “I can always save again. I just want to help the uncle.”
Madam Lee said her children have always been willing to help others.
“They always give money to the people who go door-to-door to sell things like tissue paper,” she said.
“Since they were young, I’ve taught them the concept of money. So if they want to buy toys, they’ll have to use their own savings.”
“I motivate them by giving them rewards when they help out with household chores or get good results in school.”
Another donor, Ms Jenn Woo, who works in the marine industry, read the TNP article on Facebook. She visited Mr Neo on Sunday afternoon and gave him $350 – a donation pooled together with five other friends.
She said: “I am the sole breadwinner… I understand how tough it can be. My mum is suffering from kidney failure, and my dad is a retiree with minimum savings.”
“It’s not right for an 81-year-old to be working so hard.”
Mr Paul Tan, an accountant visited Mr Neo last Saturday, along with his wife and 18-month-old son. He donated $2,200 which has been collected from five of his friends.
He said: “Mr Neo is a very dignified man, he initially rejected the donation. But I told him we’re donating not out of pity, but out of respect.”
Many netizens reacted warmly to the children, as can be read in the comments on TNP’s Facebook.