Art for the sake of philanthropy
A career in painting once seemed like a pipe dream for Chen Anni, a 20-year-old student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS).
'I loved painting from an early age and wanted to help others with my skills,' said Chen.
'Last semester, my passion motivated me to create a series of caricatures featuring the colourful campus life at GDUFS. I named it Love in GDUFS.'
She set up a small creative group for budding painters.
'I was happy to learn Anni had a magical paintbrush in hand,' said Wen Chenghui, a first-year student. 'With another two schoolmates, we started a creative philanthropic project.'
The four students printed Chen's Love in GDUFS on postcards and started selling them for 15 yuan (HK$18) a piece. Despite the high price, the group sold 300 postcards in just a few hours, Chen said.
'We used most of the proceeds to buy books for [poor] third-year students in Nan Xiang Middle School in Yunfu County, in Guangdong province,' said Shen Shumin, another group member. 'We also bought 18 padded coats for vagrants and beggars.'
Motivated by their success, they are now selling other postcards and calendars in shops around town.
'I admire their idea,' said Huang Xiaodong, a student from nearby Guangzhou University. 'Last month, when I heard a new series of postcards went on sale, I went out of my way to buy one just to support their philanthropic projects.'
But some people have questioned their motives. When they handed out padded coats to homeless people last Christmas, some people thought it was just a publicity stunt.
'We were quite sad when we heard that,' said Wen. 'But we warmed 18 hearts on a freezing night. What else can make us happier than helping others? We are proud of what we are doing.'