Compassionate Youth Fundraises for Persons with Disabilities on his Birthday

In a world where most prioritise material possessions and personal needs, Cole Phng Arnold's story is a breath of fresh air. For his 10th birthday, Cole requested donations instead of receiving gifts. Between 8th to 30th April, Cole’s birthday campaign raised more than $5,000 benefiting Singapore Red Cross Home for the Disabled. Last year, Cole organised a similar 9th birthday fundraiser benefiting Red Cross Young Hearts. He hopes to make this an annual tradition and inspire more peers to do the same.

As Cole's 10th birthday drew closer, he reflected on past birthdays and realised that fun and entertainment from gifts were short-lived. Cole decided it would be much more meaningful to leverage his birthday celebration as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.  Instead of asking for extravagant gifts or lavish celebrations, Cole organised an online fundraiser benefiting Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD).

This initiative is not new to Cole. Last year, Cole's mother, Phng Lilin suggested a birthday campaign to raise funds for those who are less fortunate.  For his ninth birthday, Cole raised more than $3,300 for the Singapore Red Cross' (SRC) Young Hearts programme. Cole was encouraged with the results and decided to repeat it.

"This year, Cole actually suggested the birthday fundraiser on his own. I was so proud as this shows he’s internalised the lesson," said Lilin.

A Celebration of Giving

When asked why he selected Red Cross Home for the Disabled, Cole replied, "I can’t do much to help people by myself, so I fundraise for an organisation that is already set up to help many people. Last year I donated to Red Cross’ Young Hearts programme, so this year I wanted to help a different group of people. I read about RCHD on the Red Cross website and wanted to help the disabled residents who are not able to care for themselves." 

As the donations started trickling in, Cole was always eager to know how much he had raised and what that amount translates to. For example, SGD $5,000 can pay for basic necessities of a RCHD resident for 13 months.

Cole raised more than $5,000 for the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, surpassing the $3,300 he raised for the Young Hearts programme last year. Cole was especially glad to have raised more money from fewer donors this year.

"All my family and friends donated generously and were very encouraging of my efforts.  I would like to thank all my donors for their kindness. Our contributions can go a long way to improve the lives of those less fortunate." said Cole. ”

Interacting with Persons with Disabilities

On 23 April 2024, Cole visited the Red Cross Home for the Disabled. It was his first personal interaction with severely disabled persons and he was initially quite taken aback. 

"Cole was unsure how to behave or communicate with the residents as many were non-verbal and some were restrained for their own safety.  However, as he observed his brother and I interacting with gentle residents like Quan Yao, he started to feel more comfortable.”

Even though it was an uncomfortable experience, Cole was glad he visited and got to meet the beneficiaries of his campaign. It allowed him to understand in a very tangible way how his donations could improve the lives of real individuals.

Lilin hopes that organising such fundraisers will help Cole grow up to be a compassionate person.

"Generally, kids tend to compare themselves with others who have more. But we are so fortunate in many ways. Organising these fundraisers helps him consider the circumstances of others who are less fortunate. I hope he will learn to be empathetic and not take things for granted," Lilin said. 

Cole’s actions also set a good example for his younger siblings. His brother Dylan was inspired by his generosity and volunteered to do the same for his birthday this year.

A New Hope

As Singapore gets increasingly developed and affluent, it is easy to be distracted and forget about people in our society who still need help. Cole’s birthday campaign is a small gesture from a young boy, but a step in the right direction, and hopefully a ripple that will inspire greater impact.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  If we each contribute a little in our own capacity, together we can create a kind and inclusive society.

By Sulis Binte Muhamad Juffery, Intern, Marketing & Communications
Copyedited by Sondra Foo, Marketing & Communications

Inspired? Keen to help the less fortunate but are unsure about how you can contribute? Uplift the lives of persons with disabilities, vulnerable families, isolated elderly and young children locally in our annual fundraiser, Grateful Hearts Day 2024! Stay tuned to our socials for more exciting updates!