Starting earlier this month, calls of “Does anyone need help carrying luggage?” rang out across the platforms of Hualien Train Station as volunteer workers offered to help carry passengers’ luggage or baby strollers.
One of the main promoters of the campaign was Lin Hui-mei (林惠梅), a student soon to start her third year at high school and a member of the Hualien Hand-in-Hand Teen Service Center.
Lin said she had wanted to be a volunteer ever since her family received help from other kind-hearted people when her father fell off a roof and was unable to work.
When she started commuting to Taipei to work two years ago, Lin said that she often helped elderly and disabled passengers, as well as passengers with strollers, carry luggage.
A lot of elderly passengers choose to take the local train or the Chukuang-class (莒光) trains to save money and they often stop at the station’s No. 3 platform, which has no escalator, Lin said.
Lin said that because the escalator on the first platform often breaks down, she gathered together a group of classmates to help out during summer vacation as one of the center’s programs to help others.
At first, everyone was shy and not sure what to do. There were even those who expected some kind of reward for helping others, Lin said.
However, the smiles and gratitude of passengers were more than enough for most, motivating everyone to do whatever they could to help.
Huang Ching-hui (黃錦慧), a graduating student accepted this year into Tzu Chi University’s social work research department, also helped out during the summer.
“Helping others carry their luggage is very meaningful and helping other people is akin to helping oneself,” Huang said.
Students are not the only group that have taken an interest in the campaign. Chen Yi-wei (陳奕維), an engineer from Taipei, spent his three-day break helping.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
Hualien station master Wu -Ching-tien (吳金添) said the station is very busy during the summer, with an average of 20,000 passengers coming and going each day.
“We would like to thank the volunteers for helping travelers with their luggage and we hope that the campaign serves as an example of social values and social responsibility for young people nationwide,” Wu said, adding that he hoped the campaign would help bring out the good in people across the country.
According to the center’s Taipei office director, Kuo Tsung-ti (郭宗棣), when the campaign first started, it was initially assumed that participants would just help passengers carry their luggage, but after a few days, it became clear that most passengers needed directions as much or more than they needed help with their luggage.
With the experience of the campaign in Hualien under its belt, the center is now planning to launch simultaneous campaigns in Taipei, Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung and Taitung train stations on Aug 26. Kuo said.