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Youths to raise fund for quake-affected children
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The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation launched on Sunday a fundraising project for May 12 earthquake-affected students, which will mainly be carried out by young volunteers.

The New Great Wall Project, launched by the foundation in 2002 to help students from poor families, will enroll volunteers from colleges and middle schools to help students affected by the earthquake which hit southwestern Sichuan and neighboring provinces on May 12.

Volunteers will work in teams of three, each team aiming to raise a minimum 10,000 yuan (1,450 US dollars) within two weeks with the goal of funding at least 10 students from quake-hit areas through two years'primary school study, in addition to statutory funding.

Raising funds at family gatherings and community activities is a sound strategy, but the students are also encouraged to think out of the box and use methods like auctions and lobbying firms, said the foundation, a non-profit NGO under the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

Volunteers will receive training from the foundation and publicity support from project sponsors Sina.com and the Beijing News, said Chen Hongtao, New Great Wall Project director. Sina is a major website and the Beijing News an influential local daily paper.

Since the earthquake, the project has helped fund study and living expenses for 1,000 college students and the current renovation of 20 schools with donations from across the country, said the foundation.

Three teams made their debut at the launch ceremony. One team, "Sunshine Seekers", managed to raise 5,660 yuan by auctioning a wooden dragon they made by hand.

"This is a creative way for young people to offer help, and also a challenge because they need not only love and passion but also the right skills for doing charity," said the foundation president Duan Yingbi.

"It is equally difficult to convince donors that the money will be spent wisely and transparently," Duan said, adding that the 80-odd staff at the foundation, who are experienced in fundraising and allocation, will help supervise the process.

Famous teenage TV star Zhang Yishan, better known as Liu Xing in a popular sit-com At Home with the Kids, attended the ceremony and called on his fans to do what they can to help their peers in quake areas.

"In the face of disasters, we are all thinking and taking action. I hope my fans and all Chinese students join in the relief force and do what they can to help our peers in quake areas," Zhang said.

A total of four primary and secondary school students from Sichuan, who have transferred to schools in Beijing, also came to the ceremony, to say thanks for the help they got from Beijing students and society in general.

Shi Die, a 10-year-old girl from the Qiang ethnic minority which suffered grievous losses in the earthquake, said, "Thank you for your care and support. Thank you for helping us continue our study."

A 12-year-old boy from Hanwang of Sichuan came in his wheelchair, his left leg half amputated, and said, "We will study hard and do our best to serve the country."

Registration for volunteers is open until July 12 at the website www.xinchangcheng.org or the foundation's office in Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2008)

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