A man surnamed Qiu never imagined he would organize "Learn From Lei Feng" activities until his car club was nominated for such a title in commemoration of the iconic altruist for a charity program the group initiated.
Qiu and his fellow club members came up with an idea to help children in mountainous Guizhou Province last year after seeing they greatly needed clothes and stationery supplies.
They called on the club's 17,000 members to donate clothes, books, dictionaries and pencils to the students. The collections were mailed to the students or delivered by the club's members when they travelled there.
The program was named "A Little Drop of Water."
"Honestly speaking, I did not think of relating what we would do to Lei Feng when we initiated the program," said Qiu, who works for a marketing company in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, and prefers to be identified only by his surname.
The 35-year-old man said the club was founded to establish an online platform where its members could exchange information about car maintenance and organize road trips.
However, the club's donation activities, mostly organized by its members via the online platform, caught the attention of the organizers of a selection of online charity groups that are part of Nanjing's official "Learn From Lei Feng" campaign.
Lei Feng became a national idol of altruism and was also dubbed "Chairman Mao's good soldier" after China's late leader Mao Zedong called on the whole nation to learn from Lei's great passion for helping others and his devotion to his work on March 5, 1963, about six months after Lei's accidental death at age 22.
In a song popular in the 1960s and 1970s, "Learning from the Good Example of Lei Feng," the essence of Lei Feng's merits was summarized as "being loyal to the (Communist) Party, serving the people heart and soul, living in a plain way and working hard, and ready to serve as a screw that never rusts for the revolution."
However, people's understanding of Lei's spirit has changed since the country began to embrace a market-oriented reform, which witnessed not only an economic boom but also the emergence of self-interest and money worship.
Some have also criticized "Learn from Lei Feng" campaigns, which usually feature activities on March 5 to mark Chairman Mao's call for learning from the icon, for putting an emphasis on appearances.
It was under such a context that authorities in Nanjing decided to launch a campaign of selecting online grassroots public service groups as examples of learning from Lei Feng, according to Pan Tao, an organizer of the event with the municipal publicity department.
Pan said that mechanical moral implantation is no longer welcomed by the young generations, and the approaches of learning from Lei Feng have to adapt to social changes.
In addition to Qiu's car club, a group that offers free lectures for photography enthusiasts and a free psychological consultation service for migrant workers in Nanjing are also on the candidate list, among about 11 others.
Zhou Haiyan, a doctor of sociology as well as an associate professor with Nanjing University, said that more people and groups today like to contribute to public welfare through their own initiatives.
The emergence of Good Samaritans like Qiu's car club shows that people have begun to use more diversified standards to judge moral icons, compared with the age of Lei Feng, said Zhou.
Qiu said his club will continue with their program year after year to help the poverty-stricken students, and he hopes the "Little Drop of Water" can one day converge into a pool.
"I believe everyone is willing to help others. If our efforts can raise other people's awareness to give their help to the needy, then I think we are learning from Lei Feng," said Qiu.