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Paying it forward with kindness

The initiative was born after the founder discovered that some beneficiaries were unsure of what to do with excess food donations.


Helping the Community
Ms Azlina has always embodied kindness. She founded SmilesSalamSG, a non-profit organisation that aims to do good and bring smiles through acts of kindness. Under SmilesSalamSG, she organised overseas volunteer trips to Siem Reap, Cambodia. But when the pandemic hit, she didn’t let it deter her and found her own unique way to continue volunteering in Singapore.

Together with her husband, Mr Fahmi, and two friends, she started Pop-up Grocery – an initiative where residents can donate excess food items and exchange them for items they do need.

“The pop-up is more than just a platform to provide free groceries or reduce food wastage, it also brings people of different social backgrounds together,” said Ms Azlina.
A set up of a pop up grocery store

Set up of a pop-up grocery store.

The inception of Pop-up Grocery

During one of her volunteering stints, she sent an elderly lady home and came across stacks of rice packs in a corner of her home. That’s when Ms Azlina learned of the lady’s dilemma – she didn’t have anyone to share the donated food items with, but didn’t want to reject the items given to her.
And the elderly lady wasn’t the only one who faced this problem. Upon interacting with the neighbours, Ms Azlina found out that they all shared this common dilemma of not knowing what to do with the unused rations. 
That’s when the idea of a pop-up grocer popped into Ms Azlina’s mind.
Convenience at the void deck

The initiative received positive responses from the residents who appreciated the convenience of a free pop-up grocer located near their homes. They could take what they needed and bless their excess food items to others.
“Besides the usual staples and dry rations, we also have healthier options such as vegetables and fruits,” shared Ms Azlina.

The pop-up became a monthly affair and the word spread, with more people learning about the initiative. Some even joined as volunteers where they helped organise food drives to collect donated groceries.

Supportive community

But with any huge project, it wasn’t an easy feat for the team. When the first pop-up came to life, they realised that some high-demand items were limited, and they needed to set up a registration process to put a limit to the number of items residents could take.  They also had limited storage space to store the donated food items.
But thanks to the overwhelming positive response, the team received various forms of help along the way from others.
“We’ve reached out to more organisations and like-minded people to share about the initiative and seek their support,” Ms Azlina shared.
Kindness is contagious

“This initiative has brought people of different social backgrounds together – volunteers, vendors, residents and beneficiaries. The forged relationships between them have motivated me to keep the pop-up running.”
Ms Azlina’s acts of kindness and volunteerism spirit has influenced others to be part of the initiative. One such passionate volunteer even stepped forward to initiate a pop-up booth at Bukit Merah where she resides and became a Lead Volunteer for the area.
Plans for the future

Ms Azlina doesn’t plan to stop there. She intends to set-up more sustainable pop-ups at other housing estates so that she can reach out to even more members of the community. 
“I hope to be able to readily give emergency food rations to anyone in need so no one will go hungry.”
How you can contribute

Are you inspired? Join their team as a volunteer by signing up via the Volunteers Registration Form: https://bit.ly/sssgvolunteers.

Do you have excess groceries? Donate your items by contacting the team on WhatsApp at 8725 9450. Check out SmilesSalamSG on Instagram and Facebook.

To learn more about Our Singapore Fund, visit www.sg/oursingaporefund.


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