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Online charity provides free lunches for 15,000 needy kids


08:35, April 09, 2012

BEIJING, April 8 (Xinhua) -- A charity program, initiated by a group of journalists through the Internet, has managed to provide free lunches for about 15,000 children across China in the eight months since its been operating till December.

The program named "Free Lunch for Children" was first launched by a reporter named Deng Fei through the Internet and joined by more than 500 reporters. It is now operated under the China Social Welfare Foundation.

According to a statement from the foundation issued Sunday, as of Dec. 31, the program had received about 18 million yuan (2.86 million U.S. dollars) in donations since it started in April last year.

The program has used an unusual fund raising method. It has run an online shop on China's most popular online shopping site Taobao, where people can easily donate by buying a virtual charity product by 3 yuan or actual T-shirts or pins produced by the program for fund raising.

According to the purchase records on the program's online shop, millions of shoppers have donated money.

With these funds, the program distributed money to 129 schools for providing free lunch to students from needy families, the statement said.

To improve transparency, each school sponsored by the program is asked to set up a microblog to publicize the fund it receives and how it is spent, while a volunteer is assigned to monitor the microblog records of a school, the statement said.

In wake of the efforts of charity groups, the Chinese government also started a program to improve the diet of rural students in last autumn with an annual budget of 16 billion yuan.

Although the government has made moves, the program will not stop but continue working to help needy children, the statement said.


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