Every month, 170 hardcore poor families line up to receive generous gifts of dried foodstuff at a nondescript 0.2ha land lined with containers.
Families wait their turn in an orderly fashion holding a card, with a cloth bag hung on their shoulder marked with a number that confirms their eligibility for the ration, that sees them getting 20 to 25 items.
A sweet aroma of dhal and curries being cooked wafts through the waiting area and families are given lunch in generous portions, after collecting their foodstuff.
On receiving their ration at Charity Food Basket Society Klang, a look of despair disappears, an inconceivable smile comes forth. Some gaze at the food items in the bag and their eyes light up with hope and gratitude.
Founded by Chew Song Kong, this kind act for the underprivileged has been going on for 15 years.
Chew, a down-to-earth man, says he is overwhelmed with happiness on seeing people smile upon receiving the groceries.
Chew, 59, lives in Klang and has been unrelentingly providing groceries for the destitute.
“It all started in 1995, as I was driving past SK (T) Ladang Emerald in Klang. I chanced upon a woman standing on the side of the road who looked forlorn and tired. At her side were two children while the third one was being cradled in her arms.
“Something inside me just made me stop to find out if she needed help. With a weak, muffled voice she said she and her children had not eaten for eight days but just drank water. Her husband had abandoned the family,” he said.
Chew, a former electrical contractor, seeing tears streaming down her cheeks, bought the family lunch.
“Her genuineness in not wanting cash but just food for her children planted the seeds of wanting to help people. I supported the woman and her children using my own earnings. It was a secret. I did not say a word to my wife (Tan Gim Eng).
“I helped the single mother until she secured a job and could feed her children on her own. Helping this woman gave me a deeper sense of gratitude and happiness and this caused me to help more poor families and lend time to an orphanage as a volunteer,” said Chew, a father of three.
Chew added that in 2001 he had been helping 15 families and “it was still a secret! Gim Eng was in the dark over this matter but I had to tell her eventually. Once I told her, Gim Eng hugged me and asked me to continue with the charity work.”
In 2002, Chew and his wife registered the non-profit Charity Food Basket, which enables them to reach out to more people for help with the food items and to volunteer their time.
Charity Food Basket is a free food camp that provides ration for two weeks and encourages people to work to earn and not be dependent on just handouts.
Among the items in the basket are cooking oil, canned food, lentil seeds, instant noodles and biscuits. “We accept donations in kind,” said Chew.
He added: “We want people to work, earn and improve their lives. But, we help to get them on their feet. Once the poor are able to earn a living, we move on to help other families.
“For Gim Eng and I, it has become a way of life. Our work is based on a volunteer platform and there are no earnings from this.”
Charity Food Basket is very well organised and operates out of large containers on a piece of private land. The rations are handed out every first Sunday of each month. Chew collects donations from all over the Klang Valley.
Retiree Michael Ng, 54, volunteers his time at Charity Food Basket to help organise the storage section and other tasks.
Chew noted that volunteers come and go. Charity Food Basket has 50% permanent donors while another 50% contribute when they are able to.
“We are blessed that a woman living in the area has allowed the used of the land for free and the owner pays the water bill while we settle the electricity bill. Volunteers help build the distribution centre by themselves using containers. It is insect, rodent and burglar-proof. We use roller shutters to keep the place concealed,” he said.
Charity Food Basket Society Klang, is a non-racial, non-political, non-religious and non-profit organisation and a bridge for people to use where one gives and the other receives.