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Thursday, February 4, 2016, 11:02

Kindness walls bring extra warmth to the needy

By HUO YAN , QI XIN / China Daily

Initiative springs up after a South African started pop-up store to help people give and receive

Kindness walls bring extra warmth to the needy
A student volunteer helps an old woman try on a jacket donated by local resident in Liuzhou city, south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Jan 30, 2016. (Photo by Qing Yaolin/China Daily)

In Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, clothes, shoes and spare household items are hanging on a pink wall.

Everything on the "Wall of Kindness" is free to those who need it, giving the city's homeless and impoverished residents a chance to dress themselves in warm clothes amid the recent cold.

The charitable initiative is the brainchild of Hong Jing, a local newspaper columnist, who estimates that the wall has helped nearly 100 people since it was launched with just three bags of spare clothes on Jan 30.

"Many people have helped out, from a granny in her 70s or 80s to security staff and other members of the community. They are all participating enthusiastically," said Hong, who was inspired to launch the wall by the charity work she saw on a recent visit to the United States.

"Warmth and love are needed by everyone. It is just a simple wall, but it allows anyone to donate their spare clothes and those who are in need can take them."

In 2014, a South African named Max Pazak came up with the idea of a pop-up clothing swap shop that made it easier for people to donate and more dignified to receive.

Since then, kindness walls such as the one in Liuzhou have sprung up in Chinese cities, including Zhengzhou, Henan province, and Qingdao, Shandong province.

Wang Jie, founder of the Zhengzhou Wall of Kindness, said donors had taken to wrapping clothes in plastic bags and protecting them from the elements following recent snowfalls.

Meanwhile, in Qingdao, hooks and hangers have appeared on the side of a building under the words: "If you need something, take it.""It is just like what you would do at home. You hang up your clothes when you have finished wearing them and you take them down again and put them on when you are going out," said Wang Lei, director of Chuangyi Workshop, a local charity organization that is spearheading the program in Qingdao.

When clothes were first hung on the wall, passers-by thought they were for sale, said Wang, but after they learned the truth, people slowly started to come up and try them on.

"This is a simple, immediate way of helping people and it makes my spare clothing useful to others," said Qingdao native Tan Jing, who was dropping her second load of clothing off at the wall in two days.

Wang has been touched by people's generosity. "Some of the clothing is practically new. I don't even have to wash my hands after sorting it," she said.

Jiang Tao, publicity director for the China Philanthropy Research Institute, said the initiative removes the stigma of people having to ask for charity.

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Xinhua contributed to this story

Kindness walls bring extra warmth to the needy
A local resident passes by the cartoon-decorated Wall of Kindness in Zhengzhou city, central China's Henan province, Feb 2, 2016. (Photo by Hou Jianxun/China Daily)

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