Acts of kindness should 'take place every day'
Updated: 2013-03-05 07:52
By Zhang Kun in Shanghai (China Daily)
As people rush to carry out altruist acts to honor one of China's most celebrated sons, a Shanghai cultural official has said such sentiments should last all year, not just for a month.
Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of late Chairman Mao Zedong's call for people to learn from Lei Feng, a soldier who earned legendary status for his selfless behaviors.
March 5 was designated Learn from Lei Feng Day, and every year it motivates people to help those in need.
However, as Xinhua News Agency pointed out in a recent editorial, "Uncle Lei Feng comes in March and leaves in April", a phrase that reflects how the altruistic fervor is seen as only temporary.
"It should happen every day, everywhere, and in every aspect of social and personal life," Chen Zhenmin, director of the office promoting socialist culture and ethics in Shanghai, told China Daily on Monday.
The all-out rush to perform acts of kindness that starts with Learn from Lei Feng Day has even resulted in some welfare facilities complaining of being overrun by people wanting to volunteer, according to media reports.
"Not only staff members, but our residents can't take it any more," Zhu Aiyun was quoted as saying by the Jinan Times.
The director of Fuxiang Elderly Care Home in Jinan, Shandong province, said teenagers have flocked to his center on a daily basis to offer their services.
Chen said Shanghai has been working to make the volunteer spirit last year-round, and has established service centers for people wanting to perform acts of kindness.
More than 10,000 volunteers regularly work at the centers, 62 at municipal level and 317 at district level, to offer emotional support for patients in hospitals, maintain order and keep public spaces clean, said Huang Zongming, director of Shanghai Volunteers' Association. The volunteers help elderly people and children with special needs in welfare facilities all over the city.
College students, retirees and Party members make up the majority of volunteers in Shanghai.
Students from different universities arrange work shifts to volunteer at Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, and Party members organize group visits to comfort patients with fatal diseases.
"More than 200,000 people have been involved and participated in these volunteer service centers," Huang said. "They often enjoy the services themselves.
"Retired people find a sense of belonging through the teamwork, and people serving in parks get a venue for their own leisure in return - good deeds work both ways, which is exactly how things should be.
"It's fundamental to ensure good deeds are appreciated and rewarded," Chen added.
Around 8.49 million yuan ($1.36 million) has been donated by the public so far this year in Shanghai. The money is used to help people who have done good and encountered problems or hardship in their lives.
(China Daily 03/05/2013 page3)