Singaporeans pay it forward

The Singapore Red Cross (SRS) has raised S$4.1 million for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, excluding the S$500,000 pledged by the Singapore government.

With cash donations from other aid agencies exceeding S$5 million, the people in Singapore are giving when it counts.

Pat Gauron, who has been a regular SRS volunteer for more than a decade, said "The response has been overwhelming. They come in with big fat cheques."

Yahoo! Singapore understands that the aid agency sees several hundreds of donors daily, with crowds coming in droves during lunch and after working hours.

"I actually spent a year in Japan during my undergraduate days, so I really feel for the victims and want to help them in whatever way I can," said 35-year-old marketing manager Samantha Chew, who made a donation during her lunch break.

A 42-year-old businessman who only wanted to be known as Ng, added, "I don't donate regularly to such charities, but the Japan disaster was just too heartbreaking. I knew I had to help."

SRS has sent 10,000 bottles of water, 1,200 blankets and 200 mattresses to Sendai, in north Japan.

Once Japanese authorities give the word, the aid agency will send its second batch of relief aid -- 10 tonnes of blankets and collapsible water containers -- to the disaster zone.

Meanwhile, aid agency Mercy Relief has collected S$722,000 so far, including a S$200,000 cheque by faith group Singapore Soka Association to help aid workers in Japan buy relief supplies such as food, blankets and drinking water.

Its five-member team is now in Japan distributing relief supplies to victims near the Iwate prefecture.

World Vision Singapore has also collected more than S$400,000 as of 5pm on Monday.

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