United in making a difference
"It started as a week-long programme in 2003 and grew into a month-long commitment to build, beautify and better our communities starting in 2008," says David Cheung, human resources manager at UPS Hong Kong.
"UPS encourages its employees around the world to make a positive impact in their communities by donating their time and talent to people and organisations in need," he adds.
Mike Cheng has been with the package delivery company for 18 years and works as an operator with the UPS data management team in Hong Kong.
"As a committee member of the UPS Eighth Global Volunteer Month, I participated in the Low Income Family Children and Asian Children Carnival Day, and the Organic Banana Tree Harvesting Day," Cheng says.
The bananas were planted at New Life Farm in Tuen Mun, a social enterprise operated by the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, a non-governmental organisation in Hong Kong which helps enhance public understanding and acceptance of the mentally ill. A total of 214 UPS employees and their families contributed more than 1,000 hours to harvest bananas in the course of two, one-day events.
The Carnival Day, organised by the Hong Kong Playground Association, was for children from poor and ethnic minority families. More than 40 UPS employees, together with their families, helped organise the event in Tsang Yi.
The altruism of UPS employees and their families in Hong Kong was echoed across the Asia-Pacific - where a total of 21,000 hours of community service were volunteered - and further afield.
Cheung says that last year, UPS globally provided the United Nations World Food Programme with substantial financial and in-kind support for areas affected by heavy rains and flooding in Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, American Samoa and Taiwan in 2009.
In Hong Kong, as part of Children's Reading Day, 10 UPS volunteers took mentally disabled children to a library in Sha Tin in an event organised by the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council, while 48 staff-and-family volunteers joined mentally disabled members of the Fu Hong Society to play games and bake cookies in Shek Pai Wan in Aberdeen, as part of the society's Caring Cookies Express Day. More than 60 UPS volunteers went hiking in Bride's Pool in the New Territories, and learned some basic sign language skills, with members of the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf.
For Cheng, his volunteer efforts were very rewarding. "I had a chance to interact with Southeast Asian children as a booth co-ordinator," he says. "The event has given me a new perspective on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong."
UPS volunteer projects must
Be effective and non-profit making
Support global literacy and diversity
Promote community safety and the environment