KUALA LUMPUR: A long line of homeless people and those from the B40 community lined up patiently for packed food and groceries on Friday at Pusat Pembelajaran Komuniti Chow Kit here.
Although it was two days before Chinese New Year celebrations, Tony Lian, or Uncle Tony as he is fondly known, and his team of volunteers were on the ground distributing these items to the needy.
While the pensioner and his team typically provide packed food at this location every Friday, last week’s distribution was extra special.
“In conjunction with Chinese New Year, we are distributing 100 grocery bags to poor families as well,” he told FMT, beaming and clearly pleased that many needy people and their families could look forward to having something special for the festive season.
In less than an hour, 650 packed food containers had been distributed. Next was attending to the long line of people waiting for groceries.
Uncle Tony estimated that there were at least 450 individuals from the Chow Kit and Medan Tuanku areas who showed up. “[When it comes to packed food], we allow them to take more than one for their families.”
The food is usually prepared by Uncle Tony and his team from Food4U, the charity organisation he founded. And they are generous with the meals, which usually include fried chicken, fish, vegetables, and sandwiches. There is also hot coffee.
Meanwhile, the grocery bags included rice, cooking oil, eggs, instant noodles, salt, and sugar – essentials that help the poor feed their families.
“And every third week of the month, like today, we collaborate with the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association to provide counselling,” the 73-year-old added.
Compassion is key
As always, Uncle Tony was in the thick of things, organising the queues and chatting with the people. Many came forward to thank him personally before leaving with food and groceries, affectionately calling him “uncle”.
He later revealed that he also distributes food five days a week in other locations such as Brickfields and Pudu.
One can’t help but wonder, while this is a noble initiative, it certainly can’t be easy. Uncle Tony could very well be enjoying his retirement with more pleasurable pursuits. So, what drives him?
“What gives me the motivation [to keep going] is compassion. What happens to the elderly, disabled, homeless and poor if human beings do not have compassion for them?
“So, what you see today is a group of people coming together because they have compassion to help the needy,” he replied.
He expressed his gratitude to his donors and volunteers, adding that there were more than 20 volunteers with him that day. “Generally speaking, Malaysians are very generous and kind people. When they heard about our work, they contacted us and provided us with grocery items. Some also prepared packed food or gave us cash.”
And while Chinese New Year is a time for gathering with families and enjoying an abundance of good food, there are others who may not be blessed with the same good fortune. As such, Uncle Tony said the more fortunate in society should give a thought to the many who go without.
“My Chinese New Year wish is this: that every Malaysian, regardless of race or religion, extends their hand to anyone in need. Bringing hope and love into the lives of others is itself a big celebration. Make your Chinese New Year more joyful by caring or helping the needy so they can enjoy the festivities, too.”
True to form, Uncle Tony will be back feeding the homeless and poor tomorrow, the third day of Chinese New Year.
WISH TO DONATE?
- Contact Food4U: 017-8812666
- Contact Uncle Tony: 018-2080840
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