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Social Donation System Benefits 400 Million

China's long-standing social donation system has contributed a total of 23.6 billion yuan (US$2.85 billion) to help more than 400 million poor and disaster-stricken people in the past eight years, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA).

MCA statistics show that 28,000 social donation stations have been established in Chinese cities since 1996 as an effort of setting up a mechanism to handle donations on a regular basis. Thanks to the mechanism, civil affairs departments at various levels received and handed out donated items and funds valuing some 23.6 billion yuan, including 12.6 billion yuan (US$1.52 billion) in cash and checks, and clothes and quilts worth 957 million yuan (US$116 million).

Donation activities mainly take in three forms in China: economically advanced regions helping specific less developed regions, motivating people to donate to relieve the effect of specific disasters and receiving items and funds donated for no specific causes and making them available where needed.

The long-standing social donation mechanism first targets disaster-hit and rural poor populations and covers workers serving enterprises in financial difficulties and those being laid off from state-owned enterprises. The mechanism's focus has expanded in the past two years from serving basic living needs to providing medical services and training to needy populations.

In order to better serve the country's needy, Chinese civil affairs departments recently started to build special convenience stores for poor residents in urban communities.

The first of these was established on September 10 in Fengsheng Hutong of Beijing's Xicheng District. Needy residents in the community are able to pick up items for free from the store by showing social care cards issued by the community. Other residents in the community can put items that they want to donate in the store and let their poor neighbors choose.

So far, the convenience store in Fengsheng Hutong, Xicheng District has delivered items valuing more than 3,000 yuan (US$360) to poor residents in the community, said Li Shisan, secretary-general of the community.

Vice Minister of Civial Affairs Yang Yanyin told Xinhua Saturday while visiting the newly established convenience store in Fengsheng Hutong that her ministry will further popularize similar stores across China to strengthen the country's social donation mechanism and better serve China's needy.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2004)

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