Volunteers celebrate their finish of the 50km Egg Hike in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. The charity walk is for the One Egg Project.
MANY poor students can't focus on studies because they're undernourished. The One Egg Project raises funds to give children an egg a day. Nie Xin reports.
A lot of good eggs out there were hiking for charity late last month to ensure that malnourished primary school students receive one nutritious egg a day to get a shot of protein and energy to help them study.
Just 200 yuan (US$30.80) can buy one student 365 eggs, one for each day of the year.
The One Egg Project gets people raising money for eggs for students in nine Hope charity primary schools in Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The project is one of a number run by the Shanghai United Foundation (Lianquan), a grant-making organization that encourages grass-roots nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
One of the hikers walking for eggs last month in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, was Wei Feng, a 27-year-old IT specialist. He's not used to long hikes, but he and around 60 other young people hiked 50 kilometers from the South Hill to the West Hill. Some Egg Hikers were from Japan and South Korea.
Wei and his team of four hikers covered the distance in eight hours, the best time in the event.
"When I received an e-mail about the event, 10 of my friends promised to donate to the One Egg Project if I completed the hike," says Wei.
So far his friends have donated more than 600 yuan to the project and more people are getting interested in walking for eggs.
Shanghai United Foundation was founded in 2009 and initiated by the Nonprofit Incubator (NPI).
Of the 60 or so Egg Hikers who set out, 53 completed the 50 kilometers, says Ye Ying, organizer of the hike and one of the founders of Lianquan.
So far 100,000 yuan has been raised for the One Egg Project; these funds will be donated to Chunlei Primary School in Guizhou Province to ensure that all students there can eat an egg a day.
Wei, the IT specialist, started to take part in charitable activities when he was in university and says he hopes to work in an NGO one day.
His teammate Li Dongfeng, 30, is now a volunteer doctor working in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Shandong native was in Shanghai on holiday and heard about the Egg Hike. It was the first time he had taken part in this kind of charity activity.
Li plans to return to Shanghai after completing his volunteer work in July and says he is interested in the charity field.
Hikers wore One Egg T-shirts and attracted a lot of attention.
"We call ourselves Egg Supermen and the T-shirts get other people interested in donating," says organizer Ye.
He says the aim is to expand the project to finance the donation of clothing and quilts to schoolchildren in winter.
Lianquan aims to forge a united way of helping others and bridge the gap between donors and grass-roots NGOs. It sets up a reliable platform for communication.
"At this time, most grass-roots NGOs lack effective professional fundraising methods and Chinese foundations provide very limited grant opportunities," says Ye.
The resulting funding gap forces them to focus a disproportionate amount of time on keeping their grassroots organizations up and running; they don't have the energy or funds to conduct large-scale fundraising and improve their programs.
One of the Egg Hike leaders is 31-year-old He Zhishi who works in sports marketing and sales.
He is active in volunteer work and spends a lot of time with Lianquan; he has been with the foundation since it started in 2009.
He taps his commercial sources and networks, trying to combine commercial events with charity.
"I really hope to help people in need and help people realize their dreams," says He.
Every month there's an open house at Lianquan where people can find out about the foundation and its various projects. They also can sign up for one or donate.