Personal items donated by celebrities were collected Wednesday at a ceremony in a Beijing hotel, to help fund the education of poor children in western China.
The charity program was launched by the China Foundation for Human Rights Development (CFHRD) as part of its nationwide "schooling assistance" project.
The donation has drawn attention from both home and abroad, including French President Jacques Chirac, who donated a letter and autographed photograph, world chess champion Zhu Chen of China, and former Olympian Jan-Ove Waldner.
"Schooling assistance is crucial and urgent for China, especially in the western regions," Wang Hui, director of the Information Office of Beijing Municipality, said at the ceremony. "By this donation we are calling for social care and concern of the poor children who were denied an education."
Celebrity donations will continue to be collected, after which they will be sold at a fair to be held next spring. All income will be used to build schools and help the poor children of western China, sources with the organizer said.
According to the China Children and Teenagers Fund, China has about 2 million students not in school, and most of them are in the western areas.
(China Daily November 28, 2002)