In April, Mr Erwin Tan set up a Covid-19 fund for his alma mater, Outram Secondary School. 

The 40-year-old entrepreneur used the money raised to buy meals for students who had to report to campus during the home-based learning period. 

Mr Erwin Tan (far left), 40, the Chairman of the Old Outramians’ Association pictured with other alumni from Outram Secondary School.
Photo Credits: Old Outramians’ Association

Due to the circuit breaker measures aimed at curbing community transmissions of Covid-19, most students have been staying at home for online lessons since April 8. 

In Outram Secondary School, 27 students still had to return to school on weekdays. Some of them couldn’t stay at home by themselves as their parents both work in essential services. 

Others did not have personal computers or tablets at home. 

With some students managing to borrow electronic devices, the number of students who had to return to school dropped to 9. But for those with no internet connection at home, they couldn’t plug in for classes remotely. 

When Mr Tan who graduated in 1996 learnt about these students’ plight from their teachers, he decided to rally fellow alumni for help. 

The Chairman of the Old Outramians’ Association took to social media to reach out to fellow alumni. With the help of those who shared his post extensively, the alumni association managed to raise about $6,000.  

The money raised was more than enough to buy packed lunches for the 9 affected students, so the balance will be used to support those who are in need of more financial help in the next few months. 

Mr Tan says he’s touched to see that many “kind-hearted people wanted to help”, and their fundraising became a “societal effort” that went beyond the school’s alumni network.

Among those who responded to his fundraising call was Ms Bing Blokbergen Leow, 46, the Director of Gastro-Sense Pte Ltd.

After coming across a post from a friend who is an Outram alumnus, Ms Leow reached out to Mr Tan with an offer to sponsor packed lunches twice a week.

Food delivery that Ms Leow arranged for the underprivileged students.
Photo Credits: Old Outramians’ Association

“Initially I thought she wanted to charge [for the food]. But I was shocked to find out that she actually just wanted to sponsor the food”, says Mr Tan. 

Apart from Ms Leow, another non-alumni that reached out to Mr Tan was a former national sprinter, Mr U.K Shyam, 43, who offered to give out refurbished laptops to underprivileged students.

Food caterers offered discounts
Food caterers like Mannapot offered discounts for packed lunches that Mr Tan ordered.
Photo Credits: Old Outramians’ Association

“Food caterers also gave me big discounts when they knew why I was ordering, so these were very kind gestures,” says Mr Tan.

He adds: “If you’re worrying about what to order next for lunch or what Netflix series to watch, you’re in a very fortunate situation.”

And for those who are in such fortunate circumstances, they can “be more compassionate” and “spread positivity to our communities”.