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UPDATED: March 5, 2012 NO.10 MARCH 8, 2012
Forever Young Lei Feng
Our times need the spirit of an altruist hero more than ever
By Li Li

POWER OF A ROLE MODEL: Xu Shuanggong, 72, repairs outdoor fitness equipment in his community in Zaozhuang, east China's Shandong Province. Xu has been repairing household appliances for his neighbors for free since 1963 (JI ZHE)

This poem was penned by Guo Mingyi, an amateur poet and a rank-and-file worker at the Anshan Iron and Steel Group in Anshan, northeast China's Liaoning Province. The blood in his poem has a literal meaning as Guo has donated more than 60 liters of blood over the past two decades, equal to the blood volume of 10 adults. He is always trying to encourage the people around him to become blood donors and founded a blood-donation club in July 2006. His club now has more than 900 members.

Guo has also persuaded more than 1,700 colleagues to register as volunteer donors of stem cells. In 2006, when Guo heard that a colleague's daughter had been diagnosed with leukemia, he immediately set about trying to find people whose stem cells matched the girl's. He convinced 400 of his colleagues to take a match test. He even sought help from local residents by speaking on a live radio program. Eventually, one volunteer turned out to be a match and the 13-year-old girl was saved.

In June 2010, Guo founded an organ donor club in Anshan and its founding members included his wife, sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

In 1994, after watching a public-service advertisement on TV about children in China's poverty-stricken rural areas who could not afford to go to school, Guo became determined to do something to help.

Through Project Hope, a charity that helps children from rural poor families complete elementary school education, Guo made his first donation of 200 yuan ($31.7), one third of his family's monthly income at the time, to a boy from a mountainous village in a nearby county.

HELP AT HAND: Volunteers at a booth named after Lei Feng in the Olympic Green in Beijing gives directions to tourists on March 5, 2011 (LUO XIAOGUANG)

Guo still treasures a letter he received from the boy, who wrote, "Uncle Guo, I want to thank you for the money you sent. I am back at school. You have given hope to my family."

Guo burst into tears when reading the letter. From then on he never looked back in his charity work. "I don't need the children I helped to pay me back. All I want is for them to receive education, and the knowledge that I have changed their lives for the better," he said.

Since 1994, Guo has also donated more than 120,000 yuan ($19,000), half of his own income, to support 180 children from poor families. Although his monthly salary has increased tenfold from 300 yuan ($47.6) to 3,000 yuan ($476) over the past 20 years, his family still lives in a sparsely furnished 1980s apartment.

Moved by Guo's actions, many people call him a "modern-day Lei Feng."

Besides the shared quality of selflessness and kindness, Guo and Lei also seem to share similar trajectories in life. Before joining the army, Lei worked at Guo's current company as a bulldozer driver for more than a year. Lei and Guo were even recruited to the army by the same recruiter.

"I know a lot of Lei's fellow workers and soldiers, who told me many stories about him. I feel that he has never really left, and this strengthened my belief to follow his example and make more contributions to the country, society and others," Guo said during an online interview in February.

Although media coverage has made Guo a household name in China, he refuses to consider himself a celebrity. "I am nothing more than an ordinary worker, volunteer and person," he said. Guo also said that by serving the community and helping others, every volunteer is carrying forward Lei's legacy.

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