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Internet offers new ways for helpful citizens to lend a hand

By Wu Yong and Liu Ce  (China Daily)

08:30, March 06, 2013

Dressed like Lei Feng, a parent stands guard for the 600 students at a primary school in Jinan, Shandong province, on Tuesday, Learn from Lei Feng Day. Lei (1940-62), a Chinese soldier is known for selflessly helping people in need. [For China Daily]

Su Junlei is part of an online group of people whose lives are intertwined by their desire to follow the spirit of Lei Feng, a selfless hero the country has honored since the 1960s.

Nearly every weekend, Su and her e-friends will go to nursing homes or orphanages to work as volunteers. They also launch online fundraising campaigns to help people in need.

"I used to be told to learn from Lei Feng, but now on the Internet, I can decide what to do and how to do it," the 26-year-old Shenyang resident said.

The Internet has inspired many young people to learn from Lei Feng.

"We have more than 200 members in our QQ group and micro blog. We do not know each other but we act together," she said.

Su is not alone. Some 456,000 volunteers were active in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, in 2012.

"Traditional media conveys information in a top-down way. The audience hardly has a choice but to take it in and thus has little passion in what the media is saying. The Internet helps netizens to think independently and make a judgment," said Zhang Yuzhu, deputy director of the Liaoning publicity department.

Shenyang established an online platform last year for volunteers in the city to organize activities. It now has 1,219 registered organizations.

Statistics show that the volunteer service time has reached 2.05 million hours, and 198,000 people received the service in 2012.

Guo Mingyi, a steel worker honored as a "modern-day Lei Feng", opened his micro blog in 2011 to call for people to follow his example. His micro blog has 16.82 million followers.

The 54-year-old was given the honor for his dedication over the past three decades to helping others by giving more than 60,000 milliliters of blood. He also founded two clubs for blood donors, with 800 members, and persuaded 1,700 other people to donate their bone marrow to leukemia patients.

Being influenced by Guo, there are around 300,000 volunteers in his hometown of Anshan, Liaoning province.

"Micro blogs gave me a broader platform to help more people and to attract more people who are willing to help others. It's like a superhuman power because it can get a mass response," Guo said.

"The new media have enriched the channels for people to understand moral models," said Wang Libo, a sociology professor at Shenyang Normal University.

Lei Feng, a native of Hunan province born in 1940, joined the army in 1960 and then served in Fushun, Liaoning province. He died in 1962 when he reversed a truck into a telegraph pole. The pole fell and hit him.

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