CHRISTMAS came early for 10 families on Monday when 30 boys from the Boys' Brigade (baby) showed up at their doors to repaint their rental block units at Telok Blangah Crescent and carry out a spring-cleaning exercise.

The visit marked the start of the Boys' Brigade Share-a-Gift 2010 project, which the baby started out in 1988 to collect food and grant the Christmas wishes of needy families.

This year, they will play Santa to 28,439 people whose wishes include school textbooks for children and new refrigerators. Some 4,588 elderly people have sent their wishlist as well, a 30 per cent increase from last year.

Mr Lui Chong Chee, chairman of the 2010 project, attributed the increase to word-of-mouth spread by voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) that focus on senior citizens.

For the first time, members of the baby companies in Changkat Changi Secondary School and Bedok South Secondary School helped 10 families living in Blocks 3 and 4 Telok Blangah Crescent repaint their one-room flats.

The families were identified by Thye Hua Kwan Seniors Activity Centre, a VWO that holds community activities for 264 rental units in the two blocks of flats. The boys also tidied up the houses afterwards with some help from employees of insurance company Prudential Singapore, the project's presenting sponsor which donated $118,348.

Early X'mas cheer for seniors