| James Kon |
STARBUCKS Brunei, in collaboration with Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei, yesterday launched the Starbucks Book Drive to further raise awareness on autism, especially among youths.
Members of the public can contribute their used books through Starbucks Book Drive and the books will be passed on to SMARTER Brunei.
Held at the newly-launched first-of-its-kind Starbucks Drive-Thru in the country in Beribi, the Starbucks Book Drive launching ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah. The Managing Director of Starbucks Malaysia and Brunei, Sydney Quays, was also present on the occasion. Also in attendance were President of SMARTER Brunei Malai Hj Abdullah Hj Malai Othman and children from SMARTER Brunei.
Sydney Quays said, “We are currently working towards developing a platform that aims at bringing people together, inspiring change and making a difference in people’s lives in local communities. Through the Starbucks Book Drive, we encourage members of the public to donate their used books which will be collected and donated to SMARTER Brunei. The Starbucks Book Drive facility will be available at Starbucks outlets in Brunei for the rest of the year where customers can drop books they would like to donate to the organisation.”
Malai Hj Abdullah, meanwhile, commended the initiative by saying, “It’s excellent. Through this initiative, we are working together to raise awareness on autism. This is a catchment area for youth who will be the future of this country.”
On further cooperation between SMARTER Brunei and Starbucks, Sydney Quays commented, “We have carried out various community programmes in Malaysia and we have learned that the people involved must be very passionate, especially the NGOs or communities. Malai Abdullah is passionate on what he stands for. We see long term collaboration and the book drive is a start.”
He continued, “I think it is also important to stress on education and we have the premises to provide the opportunity for people to learn. We really need to exploit this to educate people further on autism.”
SMARTER Brunei is a non-governmental organisation run by parents and family members exclusively for individuals with autism which was established on September 9, 2001 with the objectives to support, assist, facilitate and enhance members or professionals who are directly and indirectly involved with the development of individuals with autism.
“We believe that every individual can contribute to the society and we at Starbucks want to give back to the community. We hope that the children of SMARTER can benefit from the Starbucks Book Drive,” Sydney Quays added.
When asked about the possibility of hiring individuals with special needs to work with Starbucks, he replied, “We will never discount that. If we have the opportunity and if both sides are willing and able, we don’t see an issue.”
He added, “We don’t discriminate and in terms of salary, we pay the same to everyone we hire.”