'Today, We Are All Sichuan People'

China's Olympic gymnastic team contributed money. So did the national ping pong team. They were joined by thousands of Chinese citizens who answered calls for help on the radio, TV, text messaging and the Internet.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs authorized the Red Cross Society of China and China Charity Federation to receive donations for damaged areas. The Red Cross is coordinating its efforts with Sina.com, one of China's most popular Web portals.

Within less than 36 hours of the earthquake, the Red Cross had received more than $17 million in contributions.

Private companies, universities and nongovernmental organizations have set up relief funds and collection centers to respond to the critical need for supplies and financial support.


On Tuesday, the China Foundation for Human Rights Development urged the public to contribute funds as soon as possible and forwarded $70,000 worth of clothing, tents and other supplies to hard-hit Sichuan.

In the spirit of the fast-approaching Beijing Olympics, the 2008 Chinese national gymnastics team has committed $142,800 to earthquake victims, said Gao Jian, director of the Chinese Gymnastics Administration Center.

Today, China's national table tennis team donated about $143,000 to the earthquake region.

"We've been following closely the latest news about the earthquake, and we are pain[ed] to hear about the extensive damage, injury and loss of lives," said Ding Ning, one of the youngest players on the national team.

"Our team members decided to donate … to show our concern and best wishes for [earthquake victims]. We hope things would get better as soon as possible," Ding said to the Xinhua state news agency.

Individual athletes have made private donations as well. "We were shocked when we heard the news on Monday," Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng told state media.

In Beijing, hot lines and bank accounts have been set up to receive donations from all over China. Radio talk shows hosts and television reporters in Beijing are encouraging people to pitch in as much as they can.

"Please call this number now and help Sichuan stand up again," a co-host said on a pop music channel. "Let's do whatever we can!"

Because credit cards are not yet universally accepted in China, many people are using bank transfers to send money into official earthquake relief accounts.

Beginning on Monday, public announcements have regularly appeared on Chinese Central Television with account numbers and directions for how to make charitable transfers securely.

Baidu, China's most popular search engine, has posted a link on its home page for users to learn more about the quake and donate to the Chinese Red Cross.

Wang Zhenyao, director of disaster relief at China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, expressed appreciation to Chinese donors Tuesday evening.

"We really appreciate their kindness and will deliver their donations in a timely manner to the quake victims."

Chinese Youth Respond With Compassion and Cash

The earthquake has elicited an outpouring of charity from young Chinese throughout the country.

On Tuesday at Beijing University, one of the country's top institutions, candlelight vigils and prayer sessions were held in the evening.

Students folded thousands of paper cranes -- a symbol of peace -- with messages of hope written inside.

Wei Ming Hu, the central lake on campus, glittered with small candlelit boats that students sent afloat to show their solidarity and concern for earthquake victims.

By day, Beijing University student organizations and leaders set out to collect donations on campuses across China. A viral text message declaring, "Today, we are all Sichuan people," spread quickly as students closely followed news developments.

As of this afternoon, Beijing University students had independently raised more than $40,000.

Fundraising via mobile phones has also become popular, especially among university students.

There are special telephone numbers that, when sent a text message, will automatically donate about 29 cents to earthquake relief funds.

At Beijing University, as at many other places in the country, blood drives were organized to help facilitate a rapid medical response for the injured and weak.

"There were so many students who showed up to donate that the blood bank was overwhelmed," said Zhou Taomo, a Beijing University graduate student.

"The response has been amazing. I am very moved by how my classmates have responded. We really believe we can help. There have been many terrible incidents in 2008 but I believe we can overcome them."

How You Can Help

To learn how you can make a contribution to the Sichuan earthquake disaster, please visit http://donate.ifrc.org/