A decade ago, Rui En left special instructions for her fan club RBKD: don’t get her any birthday presents. Instead, they should spend any money originally meant for her gifts on giving back to the community instead - and that is how their annual charity drive was born.
This year’s activity took place on January 17, almost two weeks before Rui En’s actual 39th birthday on January 29 (it also doubles as a Chinese New Year project since the two events are so near each other). According to a representative from RBKD, the group spent several hours going door-to-door distributing goodie bags to unsuspecting elderly residents supported by their charity partner.
As the beneficiaries aren’t told beforehand who exactly would be visiting them, you can imagine the looks on their faces when the actress shows up. “[Young] fans being star-struck? Cool. But the elderly being star-struck? Cute beyond words,” quipped the rep.
Of course, they didn’t just drop off the prezzies and leave - Rui En happily took photos and chatted with the residents. “They gushed about her being their idol and even tried to ‘prove’ that they really are her supporters - they had watched Old is Gold and were talking to her about it!” Cute beyond words, indeed.
Before they set off to execute their main task, Rui En and RBKD had a cake-cutting and lo hei session in their charity partner’s office (because birthday and CNY, remember?).
They also had a bit of fun of their own while they were packing the goodie bags together. The rep recalled that the actress “seized the opportunity to interact with everyone present” - and by “interact” they meant “tease”.
“Rui En said that everyone should do the packing with a sunshiny smile on their faces, and she asked the shier members to repeat their tasks until they were smiling like Miss Congeniality! We all had a good laugh over this.”
When asked how much is usually spent on their charity projects, the rep revealed that the members collectively contribute about S$2,000 to S$5,000 a year, depending on the needs and number of beneficiaries. This year, they managed to raise about S$3,000, but they were able to put together about S$9,000 worth of products thanks to sponsors, as well as special discounts for bulk purchases made for charitable purposes.
While they may be the ones doing the giving, Rui En and her fan club gain something as well. “Through these projects, we get to visit and learn about the different people, places, and social services in Singapore, and they are often eye-opening experiences,” said the rep. “To Rui En and our members, these projects have become a form of learning and a constant reminder of how blessed we are.”
In a statement shared through her management agency Hype Records, Rui En gushed, “Every year is special because it means so much more to me that my fans are willing to do charity work for my birthday rather than a normal celebration, which I have always felt is unnecessary and a waste of money. Charity work is never easy and this year was no exception. I can't tell you how proud I am of them.”
Read on for a little more details about their 10th birthday-slash-CNY charity drive, as well as a quick look back on memorable moments from past projects!
Rui En’s birthday cake was made entirely out of fruits
When Rui En was told she would be given a “fruit cake”, little did she know that it would actually be made completely out of fruits, with a cake base that was carved out of two watermelons (very creative).
And yes, the RBKD members made it themselves. “It probably looked pretty enough for Rui En to think that it was store-bought!” the rep quipped. Not bad for a first attempt at all.
What goes into the bags?
“What goes into the bag depends on our charity partners’ advice on what items the beneficiaries require, but having a CNY element - such as pineapple tarts, mandarin oranges, or paper decorations - is a must!”
A look back at past charity drives
Like Rui En said, doing charity work is never easy, and after hearing of what RBKD have had to endure throughout their decade of doing so, we can totally see why.
For instance, one of their vans broke down while they were distributing over 300 bags of rice in 2016. Fortunately, they had already offloaded all the vehicles, but they still had to push the van to a parking lot before calling for a towing service.
Then there was that time in 2017 when a heavy downpour put a damper - literally - on their plans, but the resourceful and quick-thinking bunch formed a human chain to move the goodie bags from the car to the block, all while getting drenched themselves. “We were cold and shivering, but our hearts warmed up as soon as the elderly residents greeted us with a familiar smile,” the rep recalled.
The prep can be a gruelling task as well. “Baking tubs of CNY cookies for over 200 people was honestly no joke. Our record was baking for three full days - we even had to sleep overnight at a member’s place because we baked until midnight and had to resume at 9am the next day!” But of course, seeing the beneficiaries’ reactions always makes any tough job “so worth it” in the end.
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