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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Lei Feng Day gives charity campaign boost

By Ma Lie (China Daily)

12:34, March 03, 2012

A charity campaign to offer care to the elderly in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, is attracting more participants with the approach of "Learn from Lei Feng Day" on March 5, a day set aside to honor the spirit of helping others.

More than 500 businesses decided by the end of February to join in charity work that was started to help the elderly but has now been extended to others.

Besides people older than 80, the poor children of migrant workers, the disabled and others in need of help are also among the intended beneficiaries of the work, according to a notice issued by Xi'an Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee on Wednesday.

Named the "One Yuan Care Plan", the charity campaign is designed to provide medicine, meals, laundry services, haircuts, taxi rides and other benefits at a cost of 1 yuan (16 cents). The work was initiated last month by the Shaanxi Provincial Charitable Society and the Xi'an-based Huashang Daily.

Li Xia, who runs a small barber shop, participated in it on Wednesday. She said her purpose in helping the elderly get haircuts for 1 yuan apiece was to commemorate Lei Feng, a People's Liberation Army soldier remembered for always giving help to others and who died in an accident 50 years ago, when he was 22.

On March 5, 1963, Chairman Mao Zedong called on the country to learn from the example set by Lei Feng. Every year since then, the same date has seen a variety activities carried out in the spirit of helping others.

"We will build the One Yuan Care Plan into a long-term campaign in the city and try to extend it to the province if the conditions are right," said Liu Weilong, chairman of the provincial charitable society, at a inauguration ceremony for the plan on Feb 22.

At that event, 151 businesses in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, barber and transport industries agreed to take part in the plan and provide charitable services to elderly persons who meet specified requirements related to their ages and living conditions.

Yang Zhongmin, manager of a local taxi company, said then that taxi drivers he oversees undertake charitable work to help the elderly. He said the deeds are not only good for the intended beneficiaries but that they also help to make the taxi company more cohesive.

He said the drivers there work both to make money and to help others.

Cao Xiurong, an 82-year-old woman who lives by herself in a residential community, was the first customer in Li Xia's barber shop to have her hair cut for 1 yuan. Before the start of the charity campaign, the same haircut had cost her 10 yuan.

She said she was grateful for the benefits society confers on the elderly.

"We have made inquiries in our district to learn more about people who are older than 80 and are living alone or in poverty and have sent them cards showing what sort of care that they can enjoy from these charitable services," Wei Jiandong, an official with the Xi'an Yanta district civil affairs bureau, said on Wednesday.

The idea behind the "One Yuan Care Plan" came from a man named He Zhuoyuan, the owner of a small restaurant. For three years, he had sold meals to a 92-year-old woman for the price of 1 yuan.

"I would charge her 1 yuan just because she needed that for her sense of dignity," He said. "If I didn't, she wouldn't feel comfortable."

After Huashang Daily reported He's story, more and more businesses expressed willingness to undertake similar charitable work.

Zhang Baotong, an expert on social and economic development, said the charitable plan has done much to provide care for the elderly. The expansion of the campaign shows that more attention is being paid to people who are living in difficulties.

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