For the past few years, I had always been reserving December as my back-to-school-shopping (BTSS) month. Previously I used to bring one family at a time to the shopping centres to shop for the children’s schooling needs. But as my list of clients grew longer, I could no longer afford to bring them one family at a time. So since 2 or 3 years ago, I started doing the BTSS batch by batch, based on where my clients stay.
This year the board decided to have it as some sort of a special event to be listed under our calendar of events. So for the Ipoh BTSS this year, we had a bigger group consisting of more clients, with a few other volunteers helping out as well. The majority of the clients needing assistance were still my clients anyway.
I started off with Kuala Kangsar, with 4 children from 2 families. Not a problem handling this one. Both families were my clients anyway.
Next up, Slim River. Again, 4 children from 2 families and both were my clients.
Round 3 was in Ipoh. 23 children from 9 families were my clients. Thank goodness there were a few other volunteers to help supervise. But I still had to swipe my card for all 9 families. Another volunteer paid first for the children of her client.
For round 4, I went to Kampar. 4 children from 3 families. Although one of them wasn’t my client, it wasn’t too bad handling it alone as there were only 4 of them.
Next, I went to Batu Gajah. 14 children from 8 families, including 2 families who aren’t my clients. And I was doing it alone.
Round 6 was in Taiping. 15 children from 7 families, including 1 family who is a client of another volunteer who did not come along. Again, I had to handle it alone.
For round 7, I went to Sungai Siput. 9 children from 4 families. I’m the main buddy to one family with 2 children, and a co-buddy to another family with 1 child. The other 2 families, with 6 children, were clients of 2 other buddies.
Round 7 was supposed to have ended this year’s BTSS, but 2 girls from Ipoh had missed the earlier Ipoh BTSS because of some family problems, so yesterday I took them out to shop for their schooling needs.
After 8 rounds of shopping, 36 families, 75 children and about RM18.5K spent, I am officially done with this year’s BTSS.
I ended up having to shop for 11 additional children who aren’t my clients. Instead of getting additional manpower from other volunteers to help me with my many clients, I ended up getting more children to handle by myself. I think next year I will have to stick to just my clients alone. Let’s just leave the Ipoh BTSS as a special event. The rest? Let the respective Buddies handle themselves.