Donating to an orphanage

A few months ago, a girl working at our regular bakery told me about one of her colleagues, who was an orphan. She shared her experiences growing up in the orphanage and the young bakery girl was so moved by the story that she decided to share it with me too.

Now that my toddler has outgrown her playpen (which is used to keep her safe when I need to cook), I wondered if the orphanage might want it and asked the bakery girl. She happily called them up to enquire. They said YES.

I was delighted because I made a custom order of a brand-new coconut husk mattress (costs about 300 yuan) for the playpen so that babies or toddlers could play/sleep comfortably in it during summer or winter.

The mattress maker kindly agreed to deliver the playpen and mattress to the orphanage for free but he charged me RMB20 for taking away the old mattress LOL

Digging around the apartment, I found the following items and packed them in shopping bags. Instead of loading them with the mattress maker, I decided to call the orphanage first:

1. 2 900 g cans of SIMILAC Advance Formula for 0-12 months

– Each can cost me RM85+ (170 yuan and they were excess we’d brought over last year in Dec. When the girl turned 1, I switched her to (cheaper!) full cream milk, which is why I have these extra cans.
– FYI, Abbott’s SIMILAC was the only brand of formula that my little girl could drink. I’d tried Anmum, Dumex, Lactogen and Snow but both her rashes stopped and her poo became regular on super expensive SIMILAC. The funny part is that she wasn’t compatible with SIMILAC-2 (6 months and above).
– The orphanage didn’t want them either but I’m going to assure her that it’s similar to the brands here. If any of the babies drink SIMILAC (popular in China), it’ll save them 450 yuan. Let’s see how it goes? Even the mattress maker was surprised that the orphanage rejected the cans of milk formula. I know my maid will take them too.

2. New boxes of Heinz toddler cereals

– OK only because they are purchased. I guess they are more comfortable seeing familiar Chinese characters printed on them.
– I actually have a few boxes of organic toddler cereal but I don’t think they’ll take them!

Sigh, I’ve got to make some cereal cookies or something soon…

3. Money

Always welcome! Orphanages need money for daily household expenses such as lighting, water supply, rental, medical fees (?)

If you want to help them out, you can give the Director, the workers and the children a Chinese New Year hong bao (money) ^_^

However, I didn’t like the person I was talking to at this orphanage and neither did the bakery girl!

4. Old clothes and shoes

– Not wanted. They prefer new clothes because they didn’t want the risk of bacteria in old clothes affecting all the babies, toddlers and kids since they live together.

– They didn’t even want a winter jacket I’d bought for my boy or even some gently-used baby / toddler clothes πŸ™

I was heartbroken but Hubby reminded me that I’m supposed to help the kids, ok? Not feel sorry for myself! Takes a deep breath.

I think my maid will want them to give to her neighbors because she was looking at them while I packed the clothes.
– I only had a pair of toddler sleep overalls and a pack of IKEA bibs to give them. Think I’ll buy some new clothes for the kids. Or I’ll check what else they need.

In the end, my frugal ayi took the baby and toddler clothes with her as she could distribute them among her neighbors.

In any case, I plan to visit the orphanage one day to see for myself what’s the place like. When I asked for the address, I was surprised to hear that it’s on quite a high floor O_O

Aren’t orphanages usually on landed property with grassy, open spaces for the kids to play and run in???

My previous work got me involved in community work and the saddest things I’ve heard from the public are:

“Wow, these orphans are so lucky! Their books and toys are even better than my kids’s! Why am I giving money to these kids when my own kids don’t even have such good toys?”


“The orphanage rejected our old clothes. Life must be so good for them. They don’t even want old clothes.”

How can these children be lucky? They are lucky just because they have a roomful of toys?

Will you call your child “lucky” if you or your husband died and left him/her all alone with his room of Baby Gap, OshKoh B’Gosh (or whatever designer brand) clothes, Fisher Price toys?

Did these women (yes, mothers!) stop to think:


In any case, I found another well-run orphanage, which I will support from now on.

I’m also checking out an old orphanage I used to volunteer at. The kids that I used to play with would be aged between 9-12 by now.

If you’d like to donate your old clothes, shoes, books and toys to orphanages, do call them up first? Also, remember:

“If a book, coat, clothes, shoes or toy is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR KID, it’s not good enough for another kid, OK?”

I must remember that too. Even if that chocolate milk stained t-shirt or pants is almost as good as new, it will appear awful to a stranger.

I know that when I was given hand-me-downs, I rejected faded or stained old clothes πŸ˜›

Luckily, my ayi knows the history behind the chocolate milk or grape juice stains and she has a hard time throwing away some of the really “old” clothes. Even when I insist that they are seriously old i.e. our 4-5 year old grubby t-shirts and jeans and not fit to be worn by anyone, she thinks there is still some wear in it.

The next time I grumble about something I don’t like, please bonk me on the head and remind me about such simple folks, ok?

We are very, very, very blessed compared to millions of people around the world who are struggling to survive on a hand-to-mouth basis.

May God bless and keep children safe around the world.

Click here if you’d like to donate to orphanages and causes in China and South East Asia.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shooi Link

    I know a colleague who will give away expired makeup and skin care to her part time maid. I disagree with that but she says she told them they were expired and they still want it.

  • couldn’t agree more, most of time, i donate milk (uht) & rice, or other needed items to usually the orphanage for toddlers. haven’t been to the babies one.
    clothes that don’t fit anymore mostly taken by maids, who will pick if they suit her/her family’s size or taste :p.
    your post really remind me to give thanks, a slap as I just grumble have to work in this long weekend, but hey, it’s a very easy job πŸ™‚ and it provides more income for future savings :p

  • Shooi – You are right, she shouldn’t give them even if the poor maid wanted them! If I were her, I’d discard the contents and throw them when I’m at work. I couldn’t bear to think of anyone falling ill due to using my expired skincare and make-up.

    Lilis – Gosh, rice is a really good idea! Didn’t think about that, silly me…

    I’m so glad they agreed to take the milk. The mattress maker helped a lot coz he say that I really have kids and am not some awful person getting rid of tainted milk or something :S

    Sorry to hear you’ve got to work on the long weekend. I fully sympathize with you as I have to work next weekend!

    You know what helps? Looking at the two “monkeys'” faces remind me that the $$$ is going to be for them and then, I take a deep breath and get back to work πŸ˜‰

  • My mother said her best friend wanted those not so good Avent bottles. I was huh?? But they are not good anymore. But she insisted that since they are so expensive, it is such a waste to just throw them away.

    I have been buying 2nd hand clothes for both kids… it’s a big biz here, since clothes are normally expensive and u know, kids outgrow clothes so fast…

  • Chew Lee – I know what you mean about the old AVENT bottles. I think I still have some old ones at home. Haven’t figured out how to throw them away yet since they are “poisonous”.

    I don’t really dare buy secondhand kids clothes here or back home because I don’t know the history behind them. The orphanage refused old children’s clothes because she feared that bacteria from previous infections may still lurk in them because parents may not have disinfected the clothes properly.

    She has to look out for the babies and toddlers at the orphanage and I see her point of view especially as hand-foot-mouth-disease is still rampant because of poor hygiene. I remember being worried about HFMD when I was pregnant – imagine the nightmare at an orphanage if all the babies and toddlers got infected!

  • i don’t have the guts to buy 2nd secondhand clothes, just too afraid about the hygene, and clothes aren’t that expensive here. but i’ve received alot hand-down children’s books from relatives and also sometimes i found 2nd books that still in great condition.
    another idea for you, maybe you can donate children’s story books, school items like bags,pencils, crayon, drawing books, etc. i prefer those to fill a goody bags than chips snacks etc :p

  • Paik Ling Link

    Good on you, Kittycat!!!

  • Lilis – Ya, orphanages love good quality children’s books. I’d sent a box of baby, toddler and preschool books to a new orphanage and the director was delighted. I just hope that there are people and volunteers around to read the books to the kids!

    The “school bag” instead of the goody bag of junk food is a really nice idea especially for orphanages with school-going kids πŸ˜€

    Paik Ling – It’s nothing much really. Wish I was Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, then I’d really be able to do “something”.

  • Andreea Link

    Hello for name is andreea,im from romania and i have 25 years old.i have a little boy.he have now 1 year and 11 mounths.everithing wass ok till 4-5 mounths ago,when my husband lose the we move in a vilage and we stay at a old women.i take care of her and she dont ask ur money for husband go to help people here at work and at end of mounth he recive 100-150euro.with this money is verry hard .if exist here some1 who wanna help us we will accept all kind of donations,toys,clothes,shos,milk, cereals,etc.everithing is ok for us.we dont ask to be new.can be old.we dont have internet but my neybor have and i can come to check my mails.u can contact me at Tnx u verry much.