Sat, Sep 14, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Mr ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ gives desks, chairs to schools

By Lin Kuo-hsien, Huang Shu-li and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Elementary-school students from remote villages in Yunlin County help assemble desks and chairs donated by an anonymous philanthropist on Aug. 9.

Photo: Lin Kuo-hsien, Taipei Times

Students from 16 elementary schools in remote villages of Yunlin County have been reveling in the joy of getting 1,000 new sets of desks and chairs, thanks to the philanthropy of an anonymous entrepreneur from central Taiwan, whom they refer to as their “Daddy-Long-Legs.”

Daddy-Long-Legs is a novel by US writer Jean Webster about a girl living in an orphanage, who nicknames her anonymous benefactor, a tall, long-legged man whom she has only seen from the back, “Daddy-Long-Legs.”

“Because this ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ was unwilling to make his identity known, he approached me through Greater Taichung City Councilor Ho Wen-hai (何文海) of the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] and expressed his intention to donate 1,000 sets of classroom desks and chairs to improve the learning environments of students in Yunlin,” said DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), who donated the furniture on behalf of the businessman.

The entrepreneur specifically asked him to put at the top of the list schools in areas that sustained the most damage from Tropical Storm Kong-Rey, which battered central and southern parts of the country earlier this month, Lee said.

“The businessman’s philanthropy is like a timely rain amid drought that saves many people from plight,” Lee said, adding that the man also promised to make another donation, should the students need more equipment.

The man’s charitable act was allegedly spurred by recent media reports of the poor condition of schools in the county, where, according to Ministry of Education statistics, more than 10,000 classroom desks and chairs were faulty.

“This is amazing! The desk gives off a smell of freshly cut wood and its surface is so smooth and even. Most importantly, it’s no longer shaky,” said Lin Yi-han (林羿函), a student at Feng Jung Elementary School in the county’s Lunbei Township (崙背).

Another person who is giving out of his own pocket to Yunlin County is Chang Ching-te (張景德), the founder of Japanese-style shabu-shabu chain restaurant Cashcity Shabu Shabu, which has 300 branches spread across the country.

Chang hails from Yunlin’s Douliou City (斗六) and moved to Taipei after graduating from junior-high school.

To eke out a living, Chang often set up a temporary stall at traditional or night markets selling a variety of products, until he saw the potential in the hot pot business nearly two decades ago and decided to travel to Japan to learn authentic shabu-shabu recipes.

As a way of paying back to society and recognizing his hometown, Chang has sponsored an evening festival to be held in front of the Changho Temple (長和宮) in the city today to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Thursday next week.

Visitors can enter a raffle to win a car, Chang said.

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