Fitri Azura Selamat, 31, is a homemaker with two young daughters.
Being moved by the kindness of strangers who helped her during difficult times and donated essential items such as diapers, she wanted to pay it forward.
As a result, in September 2021, Azura set up a blessing booth outside her HDB home in Woodlands Street 13 to offer pre-loved items for those in need. From clothes for all ages to food and household items, the booth has a variety of items that are neatly organised for anyone to take.
She is determined to continue the booth for as long as possible to give back to the community.
“My whole block is rumah sewa (rental flat). So the people who take from the booth are really people in need.”
In May 2022, she received a notice from Town Council to remove the blessing booth as it was obstructing common property.
Fitri Azura Selamat then created a Facebook post to inform donors to stop sending their pre-loved items to the booth, as she understood the Council's concerns for the safety of her fellow neighbours.
However, all was not lost. The Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council offered a store with CCTV surveillance on the second floor of 185A Woodlands Street 13. Azura deeply appreciates the new storeroom.
“This community-helping-community effort is really wonderful, especially with the new storeroom space. It became a walk-in kedai (shop). My neighbours started helping out as volunteers.”
Unfortunately, Azura’s team of volunteers are not able to commit to managing the store anymore.
“So now my husband and I handle it again without any volunteers. But I am really thankful for all that they did for the past few months.”
The blessing booth has moved back to 185A Woodlands St 13, #21-703, S731185.
How to donate to the blessing booth
As Azura feels a sense of responsibility to ensure the area is not cluttered, she appeals to members of the public to stop sending blind donations.
“Sometimes, people don’t contact me, and I get items that I don’t accept.”
The proper process is to contact her on Facebook (Rara Slmtzx) or WhatsApp her at 91250456 to get a confirmation that she can accept your donation items before dropping them off.
As there is limited space and Azura does the sorting alone now, the blessing booth has been changed to a pop-up booth for the month of Ramadan.
Support for home-based businesses
Azura also promotes home-based businesses such as @185Aanekabites and @meeanekavibes, founded by her neighbours who are making an honest living.
She highlights that home-based businesses often operate on tight budgets and with limited resources, yet they offer unique flavours and cuisines that can't be found in large chain restaurants.
“With your support, they can continue to provide for their families and offer delicious meals that bring joy to your taste buds. Let's come together to support our local home-based food businesses and watch them thrive.”
Message to the community
Azura shared that her family strives to help many people, even beyond Singapore. For example, during the recent Malaysian flood, their floor became a drop-off point for donation items. Subsequently, charity organisations would collect donations from them.
“Sometimes, we think sedekah (charity) is just about money. But it’s more than that. We can give away baju elok (clothes in good condition) to the next person in need or overseas. We can share food with others. We do our own form of sedekah.”
Azura suggested starting with the ones closest to you, like your neighbours.
She quietly points out that some people seem to think that people living in rental flats are not contributing members of the community.
“They think that we just want contributions such as blessings on Facebook. They think that we just take and don’t give. Don’t stereotype all of us; we’re not like that.”