Kuo Shaofei, an employee with the Beijing Recreation Park, turned up as usual today on his twice-weekly pilgrimage to the city's Xicheng District Library.
But he did not come to read or study: Kuo is a volunteer who offers help to the library users.
China has tens of millions of volunteers like Kuo who says the voluntary work has made life more colorful and interesting.
For them, today is special because it is 39 years to the day since China's late leader Mao Zedong wrote "Learn from Lei Feng" in a call to people all over the country to follow the famous model for voluntary work.
Lei Feng, China's most famous symbol of sacrifice for others, was born in 1940 in central China's Hunan Province. He died on August 15, 1962, in an accident at the age of 22.
During his short life, Lei Feng donated all his spare time to social causes.
Volunteers across the country today marked the date in different ways.
In Beijing, volunteers came to homes for the elderly to help clean rooms and offer medical advice.
In Wangxiang county, Lei Feng's birthplace, volunteers rushed to Lei Feng Memorial Hall to learn more about him and to mark the anniversary of Chairman Mao's call. In Hohhot, capital of the
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, hundreds of young people queued to join the association for youth volunteers.
Wang Lihua, of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, said that more and more young Chinese have built up new community values. They regard learning the spirit of Lei Feng to help those who are in difficulty as their daily duty.
Zhang Xuecheng, deputy secretary-general of the China Association for Youth Volunteers, said that the "Lei Feng Spirit" has evolved into the "Volunteer Spirit" which encourages people to do voluntary work regularly.
Zhang said that as the economy developed rapidly, people have expanded their views of the "Learn from Lei Feng" philosophy.
In the past, they used to believe that learning Lei Feng meant helping senior citizens or children do daily chores, such as repairing bicycles and doing hairdressing for free.
But today, they realized that donating body organs and blood, or applying to work in the poverty-stricken western areas are all the good ways to learn Lei Feng Spirit.
Yu Lu, a young Nanjing native who was fatally injured recently in a traffic accident, made a will to donate her corneas before dying. As a result, two people who had cataracts benefited from her donation.
And during the past five years, more than 15,000 young people have voluntarily worked as teachers or doctors in the western areas to help develop the local education and health sectors.
(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2002)