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Empty my piggy bank for quake-hit children
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"Dear Ms. Sing-Bock, I know that China has a big earthquake. A lot of people died, including thousands of students. I hope the Public School 51 can help those people over there. And I want to give them all my saving money."

Ms. Nancy Sing-Bock, principal of the Public School 51 of New York City, read out a letter proudly on the stage. Beside her was the author of the letter, six-year-old Chinese student Li Ruishi, who came to New York when his father was sent to work there a few years ago. Li was accompanied by many of his schoolmates, each of whom holding a big paper-made red heart.

"I am so proud," Ms. Sing-Bock said, "Li Ruishi came up with this wonderful idea and he would like to give all his savings. He has done his part. And as the principal, I will do my part."

Ms. Sing-Bock handed over a check to Ms. Yang Jingmei, wife of the Chinese Consul General in New York Peng Keyu. It was about 550 U.S.dollars, all raised by students of Public School 51 through campus charity sale within one day.

"I do not mind to empty my piggy bank. It is for the children affected by the earthquake." Li Ruishi said.

It was not a relief fund raising ceremony but the annual reception for the International Children's Day, held in the Chinese Consulate in New York on Saturday. Around 500 guests attended the event, including over 50 American families with Chinese children, 10 adoption agencies and representatives of school teachers from New York and surrounding area. All dressed up, most in traditional Chinese costumes.

This year's reception was postponed because the staff at the consulate had been occupied with donation work, Consul General Peng Keyu told Xinhua. A massive earthquake hit Sichuan, China, on May 12, and has since claimed nearly 69,000 lives, including many children.

At the beginning of Saturday's performance show, four child hosts asked all the guests at the reception to mourn for the victims in the earthquake. "We wish the children in the quake-hit area a happy International Children's Day," they said in a crispy children's voice.

A slideshow of selected photographs was displayed in the reception hall, showing children in Sichuan attending tent school or trying to help out their parents in home rebuilding. "As much as we want to express our condolence and care to the children in the quake zone, we do not intend to make today's event too sad. After all, it is a celebration for the Children's Day. They deserve happiness, and more important, hope," Consul General Peng said.

More Chinese kids felt for their pals in Sichuan though they might not have been born or grown up in their motherland. Instead of striking a pose with the Olympic mascots Fuwa or practising her sword dance for the show, 10-year-old Zhang Xiaoting headed directly for the Consul General when she arrived. When she and her mother finally met Consul General Peng, she carefully took out an envelop from her pocket and gave it to Mr. Peng.

"It is about 60 dollars, the money I got from my parents and relatives in the Chinese New Year. I want to donate it. Hope it will help people in the earthquake area," she said fluently in Chinese.

Grown up in the United States, Zhang Xiaoting started learning Chinese language and culture at four, her mother told reporter. " And she watches a lot news reports about China," her mother added.

"I saw on TV about the earthquake. So many people have died, including many school children. I feel really sad. I wish I could help them," Zhang Xiaoting said.

Many of the American parents would also like to extend their love to more Chinese children, not just the ones they adopted. Jessica, who adopted her Chinese daughter Coco from Yichun, Jiangxi Province in 2006, said she has been following the updates on the relief work. "It is so heartbreaking. Sometimes I just can not read the newspaper. I can not look at the pictures, especially died or injured kids," Jessica said, eyes tearful.

Now Jessica and some other families which have adopted Chinese children are trying to raise 10,000 bedding sets for the quake area."Each set will have a quilt, bedding sheets and a pillow. We heard from the U.S. Adoption Associates that these are what they need badly in Sichuan," she said. "These are some small things we can do. I hope the kids there will feel the warmth."

(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2008)

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