Chinese pop singer Li Yuchun is helping to spearhead a new fund to help children with leukaemia.
The winner of the American Idol-like Super Girl singing contest last year has been chosen as the ambassador for the "Yu Mi Loving Fund" of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF).
It is designed to raise money for China's impoverished leukaemia-stricken children, whose families are burdened by expensive medical bills and can do little but wait to die.
Around 160 fans of Li came from all over the country, including some from Hong Kong, to participate in yesterday's ceremony for the launch of the fund in Beijing.
The fans, including teenagers, middle-aged and elderly people, vied with one another to put donations into a big red box, and then got a T-shirt as a souvenir from the hands of Li. Some of them even donated many times, contributing all the money in their wallets, to get more chances to get up close to their idol.
"Li Yuchun has unimaginable influence among Chinese people, however young or old, male or female," said Wang Rupeng, general-secretary of CRCF.
He said his foundation had invited Li to serve as the image spokeswoman for the "Little Angel Fund," that is also designed to help poor children with leukaemia late last year.
"When the news was published, the website of CRCF was soon jammed and broke down many times as too many fans piled up to donate money on the request of their idol," Wang recalled, adding that the "hit rate rank" of the foundation's website climbed to around 8,000th position globally from the previous 20,000th.
"The telephone lines of my foundation were also engaged all the time as those who could not log on to the Web asked us how to send their money via remittance.
"Many fans even traveled a long distance to go to the foundation with their donations."
At present, CRCF has received more than 6,000 donations from fans totaling 400,000 yuan (US$50,000). The donations have been helping 31 poor children hit by leukaemia, Wang said.
"Given the huge influence of Li, CRCF decided to set up the special Yu Mi Loving Fund, hoping that more fans can take part in the charity move," Wang said.
Li, the 22-year-old, who wore little make-up for the launch, said at the ceremony: "It does not need many words here. Let us take action."
(China Daily March 20, 2006)