Taichung brims with charity and giving for Chinese New Year

The China Post news staff

For the average Taiwanese person, Chinese New Year is generally the most pleasant time for families to get together, travel and enjoy good food as well as each other’s company. However, for many disadvantaged groups, senior citizens who have lost touch with family members or any other slighted minority, the long stretch of the New Year holiday can amplify their feelings of loneliness and serve as a period of depression and dread.

Students, businesses and political leaders from both “green” and “blue” are acknowledging the needy, coming together in all parts of the nation to donate essentials, money and provide charitable services. In central Taichung City, Mayor Jason Hu of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) took blankets and warm winter jackets yesterday to visit Lai Wan, a senior citizen living alone under a metal-roofed house, giving him warm wishes for the New Year and bringing a smile to his face. Legislators Chang Liao-wan and Huang Kuo-shu of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) privately donated rice and other daily necessities through civil foundations for the disadvantaged and the district’s low income families. Businesses also played a big role in giving to the needy during the holiday season; a large beverage company in Taichung has consistently donated bicycles to students for over 10 years. Companies in the tea industry also gave NT$100,000 worth of tea-related products to the needy in the past three years. The Taiwan Fund for Families and Children (TFCF) in Taichung City thanked companies and individuals for their annual donations, citing their contributions for brightening Chinese New Year for many, especially children living under less privileged circumstances. Making donations through civil groups and foundations allow them to hold activities such as Chinese New Year banquets for the lonely and poor.

Students are also doing their part and being good citizens. Every year, around 1,000 high school students in Taichung City gather right before the Chinese New Year break to sell goods and raise funds for those who are comatose or bedridden. Many students also deliver food to nursing homes and help immobile seniors clean their houses. Those who are incarcerated or recently released from prison were not forgotten this year. The Taichung branch of the Taiwan After-Care Association often throws banquets for newly released people. Female inmate “A-Ying,” who has missed many Chinese New Year holidays with her family, said she was extremely grateful for the association’s festivities, which have encouraged her and given her hope that she will one day be able to spend the holiday.