Volunteers Unite providing aid to the needy via community food box project

Sylvia Looi
·2-min read
Volunteers Unite aims to help the community take care of each other. — Picture courtesy of Alfred Samuel Mariyaras
Volunteers Unite aims to help the community take care of each other. — Picture courtesy of Alfred Samuel Mariyaras

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — As the fight against Covid-19 pandemic continues, a non-governmental organisation is helping to source foodstuff to help those in need through its community food box project.

Volunteers Unite founder Alfred Samuel Mariyaras said the idea to set up the food box came from a friend, Patricia Goh, who saw it in Perth, Australia.

The first box was then set up at Setia Alam Shell gas station in mid-May after Alfred and Teddy Mobile Clinic founder Dr Madhusudhan Shanmugam convinced Setia Alam Shell gas station owner Suraya Surawan to let the food box be placed at her station.

In just a few short months, there are now over 40 food boxes in Shell gas stations in Selangor, with plans to extend the programme to Kuala Lumpur, the northern and southern regions.

“The numbers grew after Shell managing director Shairan Huzani Hussain saw a picture of the first food box launching and asked if we could collaborate.”

Alfred said instead of throwing away food that we over-purchase, it can be donated to the box where it will be picked up by those who need them.

“Many were affected by the movement control order but do not know where to seek help while those who were willing to help did not have the proper channels to do it,” he told Malay Mail.

“What Volunteers Unite is doing is to organise the channel,” he added.

Volunteer Yap Chin Fei giving the community food box a fresh coat of paint. — Picture courtesy of Alfred Samuel Mariyaras
Volunteer Yap Chin Fei giving the community food box a fresh coat of paint. — Picture courtesy of Alfred Samuel Mariyaras

While donors are welcomed to donate edible food (preferably halal), Alfred said those picking up food from the boxes are limited to three items.

“Someone will go through the box once a week to check if the donated items have expired but from our experience, the items are taken up within hours after a donor has dropped them.”

Volunteers Unite currently works with Shell Malaysia but it welcomes organisations that wish to set up similar boxes at their premises.

“We need a space where it is visible to the public for easy access for the donor and receivers.

“We als need visibility of the box to ensure there is no abuse of the items donated,” Alfred said, adding that there should also be committed employees who could look after the box.

Volunteers Unite is one of five platforms for volunteers - which includes

Apart from Volunteers Unite, Teddy Mobile Clinic, Bornean Unite, Beach CleanUp and Friends and Strangers Johor Bharu, to share resources and a network for volunteers to come together to garner support for community-based projects.

The full list of the Community Food Box can be found at Community Food Box, Sudut and Kotak Komuniti on Facebook while the group can be contacted at volunteersunite3@gmail.com or Alfred (0122161893).

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