By Tan Mei Kuan, Ili Aqilah & Khaleeja Suhaimi
In the lead-up to Christmas, the Ipoh Echo team celebrates the spirit of giving with an exclusive one-on-one with various charitable organisations. Be uplifted as Ipohites of all ethnicities share with us what the tinsel season means to them. Plus, we searched high and low for the merry happenings and specials rolled out for the celebration. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Of Charity, Family Tradition and Happenings This Tinsel Season
The Spirit of Giving
To quote Thomas S. Monson, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” Hence, we shall not forget those who are in need. In addition to spending time with loved ones, let us help out soup kitchens and other charitable organisations to spread more joy and happiness.
Lighthouse Hope Society
One of Ipoh’s very first soup kitchens, the Lighthouse centre began in February 2006 with the aim to bring hope to those in need. It reaches out to the homeless, the hungry and the helpless regardless of race and religion.
“We celebrate all major festivals with our people at the centre; this is muhibbah (goodwill) in Malaysia! Sumptuous meals are provided, our centre is decorated and ration bags of goodies and gifts are given,” said Dr S.S. Gill, the President of Lighthouse Hope Society.
Lighthouse plans to expand their work to reach out to more needy people in the future. Dr Gill and his team is working hard to explore more ways to help more people.
“Resources are limited but yet God has allowed us to sustain all these 10 years, five days a week despite never appealing or soliciting for funds from anyone. Indeed God has provided through the many well-wishers. We hope that the government will recognise our work and assist us in obtaining Tax Exempt status to help our contributors in the years to come,” added Dr Gill.
On Mondays and Thursdays from 4.30pm to 7pm, the centre provides free meals, haircuts and medical treatment. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the “Drop-In” Days from 2pm to 5pm where they provide free meals and spend time in counselling people, encouraging them and trying to find placements if they require job assistance. “On these days, we mainly counsel those in need and also drug addicts, encouraging these addicts towards agreeing for drug rehabilitation. If we can get them off the streets, this would invariably lead to less crime. On completion of drug rehabilitation with our partners Vineyard Keeper in Chemor, their lives are changed and they are able to start a new life, start families and be gainfully employed,” Dr Gill explained.
Readers who are keen on donating can do so by visiting their centre at No. 4 Jalan Koo Chong Kong in Old Town or send cheques to ‘Lighthouse Hope Society, Ipoh, Perak’. Donors can also opt for online transfer, Public Bank at 3200461024.
Pay It Forward Ipoh (PIFI)
Founded in 2015, Pay It Forward Ipoh (PIFI) is an act of paying forward a meal or two for the homeless in Ipoh. The usual meal for the street friends consists of one main course, drink, snacks and fruits. Running fully on public donation, PIFI gives out necessities such as tooth brush, tooth paste, mosquito coils and clothes on special occasions.
“Perhaps we will get Christmas-theme cookies or cakes to distribute to the homeless,” said Susan Ho, the founder of Pay It Forward Ipoh. “We welcome all sorts of help, from monetary donations of any amount or manpower as PIFI distributes their food around Ipoh,” added Susan.
The usual PIFI distribution day falls on every Saturday night at 11pm where volunteers will gather at 10.45pm at UTC Ipoh Entrance and start packing donated food and items. Currently providing 40 pax, the public can help out by visiting their Facebook page www.facebook.com/payitforwardipoh or contact Susan at 011 1278 7268.
Dapur Jalanan Ipoh (DJI)
Started in August 2014, Dapur Jalanan Ipoh (Ipoh Street Kitchen) (DJI) is a pop-up soup kitchen located at Dato Sagor food court every alternate Sunday. Staying true to their tagline “Makanan Hak Untuk Semua” (Food For All) the team has no restriction for those who want to get the food. However, they do prioritise those who are in need.
“Aside from providing the meals, DJI also aims to give a peek at how the poor are truly suffering. We want to change the bad perception that they have been labelled with,” said Amera Hassan, representative from DJI.
DJI was established by a group of Ipohites in Ipoh, inspired by Food Not Bomb; a group of independent individuals serving free food to others. They also receive strong support from Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Street Kitchen), sharing the same mission and vision.
Readers who are keen on helping out DJI in any form can contact the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dapurjalananipoh, Instagram at www.instagram.com/dapurjalananipoh or contact 019 437 8966 (E.T) or 012 559 7006 (Amad).
Love on the Streets (LOTS)
Ipoh also has another group of enthusiasts who are keen on spreading Love On The Streets (LOTS) through clothes, shoes and bag donations. Founded in November 2015, LOTS collects reusable second-hand attire to be donated to those who are in need.
“Our donation comes fully from the public. We’ve been overwhelmed by the warm response we get. Most of the clothes we received are in good condition and we are sure LOTS receivers are beyond happy when they get the clothes,” said Mohd Hilmi Fadzil, representative from LOTS.
LOTS currently serves together with DJI but Hilmi and his crew plan to open more pop up stalls around Ipoh to distribute the clothes.
The clothes donated will undergo a sorting process where the crew will check for any faults or dirt to ensure the receivers receive only clothes that are in good condition. “As for now, all the clothes are being piled up on the floor. We plan to have a few clothes racks where we can hang them; making it easier for the older citizen to choose the clothing,” stated Hilmi.
Public who are keen on joining and donating can visit LOTS at their Facebook page www.facebook.com/lotsloveonthestreet, Instagram at www.instagram.com/lots.loveonthestreet or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Into the Light of Christmas
Christmas may hold a different meaning to each of us. To some, it is just another celebration while to others, it means a whole lot more. The Ipoh Echo team had the opportunity to interview two families who are devoted believers to find out what this joyous celebration means to them and how they celebrate it.
“Christmas, to us, means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to be thankful for everything we have and a chance to reflect again on the whole year to see how much God has blessed us,” said Hilda Paviter Kaur.
By end of November, Hilda’s family would have the Christmas tree decorated and lighted up in their house. And then a major spring cleaning will take place a week before the celebration before starting on baking the Christmas cookies.
As their family enjoys cooking, they would cook all types of dishes for Christmas Eve dinner, where they would invite their relatives and friends over to feast together. Half of the Eve would be spent on preparing for the dinner. “My mother loves scented candles. It’s the only time of the year she would light them up and place them all over the house,” Hilda added.
After dinner, the countdown to midnight begins. That is when the gifts are opened. Christmas mornings are spent at the church for a morning service. And lunch would mean finishing up leftovers from the night before. “It’s a celebration of the birth of our saviour and how we’re thankful for all that He has done for us,” Hilda remarked.
For Constance Chi and her family, less preparations are done as they are usually involved in the Christmas celebration at their church. Therefore, their only preparations involve helping out with the decorations or practising for band in church.
“To us, Christmas is a season of joy and giving. It’s a time to celebrate that God gave Jesus Christ to us and that’s the greatest gift to celebrate. Christmas being at the end of the year also helps us ponder upon what we have as we set foot into the new year,” expressed Constance.
On Christmas morning, her family would go to church for the morning service as what greater way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ than to gather with fellow Christians? They would then attend a lunch hosted by a family friend. “We have lunch at their place every Christmas. Spending time with the people we love and grew up with is the best part for us,” she continued.
Similar to Hilda and her family, Constance and her family too believes that with Christmas occuring at the end of the year, helps them to reflect on all the things God has blessed them with throughout the year.
“Christmas is a time of bright, shiny, colourful lights and decorations; symbolising the hope we have in Jesus,” she said with a smile.
Non-Christians Make Christmas Merrier
Ipoh Echo also spoke to non-Christians who, together with believers, make Christmas merrier as a multicultural society.
According to Darshini Sandrasagaran, a case management officer, Christmas holidays is family time when they will enjoy good TV shows in the comfort of their abode. “This year, we will go on holiday in New Zealand. Of course, shopping for Christmas sales is a must. That’s the period when the shopaholic in us comes alive with the sale sign everywhere!” the 25-year-old explained. “I enjoy the atmosphere a lot. We love hunting for Christmas decorations. Last year, we even went all the way to Singapore to check out their deco. It was the best!” she enthused.
Another Ipohite, Dr Adelya Makmor, shared Darshini’s sentiments. “I would spend time with my family, usually by having a good feast and go sightseeing in the countryside as we love nature. We enjoy watching Christmas specials aired on TV and the merry atmosphere in the malls. This is the best part of being a Malaysian as we can enjoy the warmth of celebrating various festivities together,” Adelya said.
For 25-year-old Pooi Wan, the festive environment and the holidays are her favourite. “Although I don’t celebrate, we automatically feel the joy when it’s December every year! It feels like an early Chinese New Year celebration because people dress in red too. Equally fun is the company Christmas party where we exchange gifts and sing carols, just like a close family,” the amiable Pooi Wan shared.
Christmas Happenings in Ipoh
This is the season to be jolly at Meru Valley Resort as they unveil their holiday packages for an exclusive Christmas celebration in their suites. The packages for two days and one night stay are inclusive of a 3-course dinner with turkey carving and breakfast. Available for December 24 and 25 only, call Meru Suites reception at 012 668 8579 or email to email@example.com for more info and reservation. Limited suites are available. For the same dates, Meru Valley Resort also offers a 3-course dinner with turkey carvery for only RM68 nett per person at the Dome Restaurant. To book a table, call 05 529 3358.
Meanwhile, Healy Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaurant is serving special à la carte menu on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Highlights include roast turkey slices and baked gammon ham, pan-seared Norwegian salmon, Australian grass-fed chilled rib eye steak, oven roasted pork knuckle, New Zealand lamb rack, organic BBQ pork ribs and flame grilled pork chop. For reservations, call 05 249 3627 as the turkey and ham dish are limited. There will be a live band, Santa Claus and a special Christmas cocktail to be revealed on the eve!
This Christmas, Adris Jewellers offers an exciting array of Christmas ‘gift jewellery’ at several price points to suit your needs. Comprising of a melange of exciting colourful gemstones and diamonds, the collection would make ideal affordable gifts and are priced mostly in the RM1000 range.
Let’s celebrate the best of the best at The Haven Resort Hotel and Residences Ipoh with their Festive Christmas BBQ Buffet Dinner from December 23 to 25. Among the main delights from the Cuisines Restaurant is the succulent roasted turkey slices with old-fashioned giblet sauce. Featuring a live BBQ station, in-house singer and band, there is discount for early birds. Make your booking at 05 540 0000.
Last but not least, delight your loved ones with a wonderful Christmas Eve buffet dinner and a Christmas Sunday roast brunch at WEIL Hotel. Exclusively at TIFFIN Restaurant, please call 05 208 2021 for reservations or enquiries.
The Ipoh Echo team wishes all readers near and far a heart-warming Christmas.