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Volunteers show spirit, lend a hand

Volunteers show spirit, lend a hand

BANGKOK: Volunteers from all walks of life flocked to Sanam Luang yesterday (Oct 16) to serve food items and other necessities to the growing number of mourners who were standing in long queues to say farewell to their beloved His Majesty the King.

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By Bangkok Post

Monday 17 October 2016, 09:05AM


Soaked to the skin by the heavy rain at Sanam Luang yesterday  (Oct 16), students distribute meal boxes to mourners who were lining up to sign a book of condolences for the late King at the Grand Palace. Many volunteers showed up to provide free motorcycle rides and food. Photo: Tanaphon Ongarttrakul

Soaked to the skin by the heavy rain at Sanam Luang yesterday (Oct 16), students distribute meal boxes to mourners who were lining up to sign a book of condolences for the late King at the Grand Palace. Many volunteers showed up to provide free motorcycle rides and food. Photo: Tanaphon Ongarttrakul

“My company hardly offers any volunteer activities. So, I took this opportunity to do something useful for the Thai people,” said Boonteing Pawatta, 42, the owner of a company called T Prophon Charoenyont which supplies auto spare parts.

As the rain was falling, Mr Boonteing, his colleagues and their young children, who travelled together from Samut Prakan province, were spotted on Ratchadamnoen Nai Rd handing out bottles of water, yoghurt, soft custard bread and crispy pa tong ko, or deep-fried Chinese doughnuts.

Mr Boonteing, who collected B70,000 from his friends and colleagues to buy food, said he was planning to return to do the same thing at Sanam Luang next weekend until the money is spent.

“I had no words to say. This was just the least we could do,” he said.

Black-clad mourners, braving the heavy rains yesterday afternoon, lined up to pay their respects before a portrait of His Majesty the King at the Sala Sahathai Samakhom pavilion inside the Grand Palace.

His Majesty is lying in state at the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace.

The length of the queue formed by grief-stricken Thais extended to Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit which is 450 metres from the Grand Palace.

Many mourners were seen holding portraits of His Majesty the King and Queen close to their hearts while standing.

Despite yesterday’s gloomy weather and constant rainfall, the roads were crowded with public buses, cars and people travelling from different provinces to bid farewell to their beloved King.

A large group of volunteers from different non-profit organisations offered all kinds of items from packages of tissue paper, umbrellas and energy drinks to paracetamol pills and peeled watermelon to the crowd.

Police on duty near the Grand Palace also received drinking water and food from volunteers.

“My friends and I uploaded the photos we took after arriving at Sanam Luang at 8am. Friends asked us to buy more things for the mourners who had been here for several hours,” recalled one mourner, 24-year-old company worker Pongpon Chanroen.

Meanwhile, Ms Phaphasson Naiam and her friend, Mr Chonthichai Thaiprasert, both 28, were cleaning the streets and collecting garbage from mourners in another voluntary gesture. They said they were also company employees.

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“We received thank you messages from everyone. Elderly people we meet wished us good health and a long life. We feel blessed,” said the pair, who also joined celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the late King’s accession to the throne in June this year.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty, ascending the throne in 1946. Despite their sadness over the passing of His Majesty the King, the work by the volunteers keeps their mind off their grief.

“We were sad, but happy that we had done something useful for society,” Ms Phaphassorn said with a smile.

“We hope our father acknowledges our goodwill,” Ms Phaphassorn said before she picked up some rubbish at Sanam Luang.

A taxi motorcycle rider who provided free-of-charge pick-up and drop-off services for mourners, Nitthichai Kotchain, 38, said help can always be found in the kingdom.

“This is the King’s teaching, Thai people should help each other, especially during difficult times,” said Mr Nitthichai, adding the King also told Thais to love each other, not to love him.

Various groups of students in uniform were distributing drinking water and soft drinks for people waiting to enter the Grand Palace.

About 200 volunteers from the Ruamkatanyu Foundation also distributed Thai food items, including stir-fried chicken with chilli and basil.

Celebrities were also seen among the crowds. Among them, AF1 champion, Pacharapon “Vit” Jantieng, said helping as a volunteer brought him happiness.

“Honestly, it was great fun and I was happy doing this with a group of my close friends,” he said while offering an omelette with rice to an elderly woman in a black dress. At the next booth, Preeti “Bank” Barameeanant, from the popular rock band Clash, helped volunteers who had also built the booths, give out bottles of water to the crowd.

The government has set a mourning period of one year for the passing of his Majesty the King.

Members of the public will be allowed to pay their respects in front of his royal urn inside the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall from Oct 28 onwards, the Royal Household Bureau announced on Saturday (Oct 15).

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