PeopleGiving president Teok Gek We spreading the love through hugs.
THE MESSAGE of love can be conveyed through a simple but sincere hug. This was what shoppers at 1Utama Shopping Centre discovered when volunteers hugged 1,200 people for the Hugs for Love campaign.
The event, in its second year, was organised by PeopleGiving, a local non-profit group set up in 2012 to provide a free online fundraising platform for non-governmental organisations.
Kelvin Tan, a 28-year-old engineer, was at first shy but later accepted a hug.
"It is the first time I have come across such a campaign," he said.
Susan Wong, a housewife in her 50s, who was also new to the concept, felt good receiving the hug.
"In our Asian culture, even hugging members of our family is rare," she said.
Prior to the event, the public made donations online. Hugs were given out for a RM10 donation. A total RM20,752 was raised, surpassing the RM12,000 target.
Part of the proceeds will go to the National Cancer Council and National Stroke Association of Malaysia.
PeopleGiving president Teok Gek We said the idea was to spread the message of love.
All hugs were given out in one hour and 15 minutes.
"We told volunteers specifically that this is not a competition on how fast you can finish the task, so be sure to give a proper hug," she said.
The message of love was felt not just by those hugged but also by the 50 volunteers.
This is the second time Atterin Cheong has volunteered for the campaign.
"Some are shy to tell their loved ones "I love you", so a hug is a simple way to convey that," she said.
Her tip is to approach someone with open arms and ask them if they would like a hug so that they would know you are sincere.
She does not feel dejected when people refuse a free hug.
"Some are just shy. I just smile and wish them happy shopping," she said.
First-time volunteers Keiro Yee, 24, and Jerry Chong, 30, got to know about the campaign through friends and gamely took part.
While he is no stranger to charity work, Yee felt this campaign was different.
"I like their slogan. Apart from donating money, you can also convey the message of love with hugs," he said.
Chong said such campaigns showed that there are many ways one can benefit from the community.
The university lecturer hoped to pitch the idea to his students.
"Anyone can make donations but to make a change, it feels different.
"I have pride in bringing change, I hope to be the catalyst and start by making a change myself," he said.
For details, visit www.facebook.com/PeopleGiving.
By Oh Ing Yeen