East China's Shandong Province has decided to make May 18 "Charity Day" to urge more residents to help the less fortunate.
The date is pronounced in Chinese as "wu yao ba", which sounds very much like "wo yao fa", or "I will make a fortune". The date has therefore been an auspicious one to get married or launch a new business.
But the Shandong provincial government has decided May 18 should read as "wo yao bang", meaning "I will help" in Chinese.
Top donors and other generous individuals received awards from the province's charity federation on Friday.
Among them, Eunice Moe Brock, a 90-year-old woman from the United States, was also honoured as one of the top 10 most charitable people for her affection and benevolence toward the Chinese.
Settling in Shandong in 1998, she has been trying to improve medical care facilities in a number of villages, and has donated more than 300,000 yuan.
In recent weeks Shandong also launched a massive one-yuan donation program to involve more people in charity work.
By donating just 1 yuan (13 cents), donors get a red ribbon bow to symbolize love and kindness.
Charity organizations in Shandong Province have received 1.3 billion yuan in donations in the past decade. The money has helped more than 2 million people.
Many people in China have proposed that a national Charity Day be set up.
"China's charity work has developed rapidly for a developing country," said Zhang Liwei, deputy secretary of the Amity Foundation, an organization dedicated to education and the alleviation of poverty.
But he called on more ordinary people to get involved in charitable causes.
Statistics show that private donations last year amounted to a mere 1.7 billion yuan ($221 million), that is, a per capita donation of just over 1 yuan.
(China Daily May 19, 2007)