Customers at the stores can now simply scan a barcode to make a standard donation of B250, which will be added to their bill.
“They are available from today and can be purchased at any of the three Villa Markets, as well as Villa Market online. Simply inform the cashier at the till and they will scan a barcode,” explained Sara Al-Sayer, a campaign volunteer and the charity’s administrator.
The three Villa Market stores are located at Chalong (just north of Chalong Circle on Chao Fa West Rd), at Boat Avenue Phuket (near Laguna) and at Boat Lagoon Phuket in Koh Kaew.
Each standard pack contains one 5kg bag of rice, a big packet of noodles, two cans of sardines, a bottle of fish sauce, a bottle of cooking oil, some dishwashing liquid and four bars of soap.
“In return for your generous donation, you will receive an exclusive copy of ‘Lean on Me’ performed by the Phuket Academy of Performing Arts and friends,” Ms Al-Sayer explained on behalf of Kath Cummings, the key driving force behind the campaign.
The packs will be totalled up and prepared by Villa Market at the end of every day and a Help Phuket Today volunteer will pick them up the following day, she added.
The move to have barcodes available is aimed at making it easier for people to contribute to the campaign, and to remind them the grave situation of the sheer number of people in Phuket without any income from COVID-19 situation is just as bad today as it was a month ago.
The situation is expected to only become worse, especially in the hospitality industry now that hotels are legally allowed to reopen, meaning the social security payments for needing income support due to forced closure will stop.
“People assume that now that lockdown has been eased and many have been able to return to work, that there is no longer a need, but this sadly is not true,” Ms Al-Sayer explained.
Kath Cummings added, “The need is as great as ever in many communities. We are still delivering food weekly and the queues are getting longer. Many people have lost their jobs, or still cannot return to work as their businesses are not open.
“There are people out there starving and living off leaves and bugs in the forest. The islands, for example, and the families on them have had only one food delivery since lockdown. We are trying to get 100 bags to be delivered to them for their families,” she added.
Extreme circumstances is what inspired Kath Cummings to launch Help Phuket Today, namely the news story about 20-year-old Chayaphon Atdin who presented himself at Wichit Police Station with just one methamphetamine pill (ya bah) so he could be arrested - and finally get food.
“He was holding a single ya bah pill in order to break the law. We realised that there was a big problem here and that people who had lost their jobs or income were going hungry,” Ms Cummings explained.
“I contacted Yvonne at Villa Market to help me with donation boxes, and to her immense credit, donation boxes were placed outside all three Villa Markets on the island by the next Monday.
“The concept was formed as Phuket’s districts were locked down, and moving between districts to feed people became complicated. People who volunteered, and there are many, were empowered to create their own zone where they could locate and establish those who were in need of help. They could raise funds – or we would help from our own fundraising – and they would prepare food packs or hot food in order to feed them,” she explained.
“We worked closely with the Good Shepherd who were hugely helpful in getting us established. There have been such active volunteers in districts all over the island who have been instrumental in stopping so many people from facing starvation.
“A massive thank you needs to be said to all our wonderful volunteers, and to the Phuket Academy of Performing Arts and to Villa Market for this wonderful opportunity,” Ms Cummings noted.
Anyone interested in donating directly to the campaign can contact: email@example.com
Alternatively bank transfers can be made to:
Name: Lakana Sukhsuchit & Jemmit Tammapichai
Bank Ref: Food for Poor Donation
Donations of items are also accepted through donation boxes at each Villa Market, and the campaign welcomes offers of help with logistics.