For the past years, I’ve been taking my clients for their back-to-school-shopping (BTSS) by myself. Even when I decided to shop for a few families at the same time, I went by myself without involving other volunteers.
This year however, for the bigger Ipoh group, we decided to make it a special event for Buddies, involving not just my clients, but also clients of other volunteers as well. Nonetheless, the majority of the families involved were my clients.
I was initially supposed to have 11 families joining the Ipoh BTSS. However only 9 families turned up as the other 2 families had more important matters to attend to.
Out of the 9 families, 2 came down from Cameron Highlands. Last year I went up to CH to take them shopping. However, this year, they agreed to come down to Ipoh to join the other families, and make things easier for me as well.
So yesterday, after my Saturday pasar tani routine, I went to fetch Aini at her home. I agreed to fetch her despite only having one child still in school, because of all my clients, she’s physically the weakest, needing a walking stick to move around. Her eldest daughter has gone back to the polytechnic where she is studying, while her second son had just completed his SPM.
We reached the hypermarket quite early, and as I expected, we were the first ones there. But it didn’t take long before I started getting calls and text messages from my clients, telling me they had already arrived and was asking me where exactly to find me.
My fellow volunteers too started arriving, including the 3 new trainee volunteers. All in 8 volunteers turned up to help out.
As for the families, I just gave them the guidelines as to what items to choose and how many of each item to buy. Things were quite easy for me initially, leaving them to choose things for themselves with the volunteers helping them out. But when the time came to check out and pay at the cashiers, I had to standby in between 2 counters. The families queued at 2 separate counters, luckily the counters were next to each other. You see, I used my card to pay for my clients (an advance cheque was made out under my name earlier, but I wasn’t about to carry thousands of Ringgit in my handbag, it was safer to pay by card), so I just had to wait in the middle, whichever cashier finished entering the codes for all the items first, I’d go to that counter to make payment. And this continued for 9 families.
Once payment was made, each family needed to show the receipt to the guard to be stamped before leaving. I needed the receipts for my claims and I wasn’t in the position to follow them out and come back in again to pay for the other families. Thank goodness the trainee volunteers were around and waited till the end, so once payment was made, they’d accompany the families out for the receipt to be stamped, after which they’d bring the receipts back to me.
Total amount swiped was RM6,495.95 for 24 children from 9 families. That does not include the RM1.3K+ another volunteer had to pay for the children of her client.
After 3 rounds of BTSS, I’ve already covered 32 children from 13 families. I have another 4 rounds to go, covering at least 30 more children.