Five senior-high school students from Taoyuan County on Saturday embarked on a seven-day round-the-nation journey on public transportation to drum up support for a program that seeks to help economically disadvantaged children both in Taiwan and abroad.
Wearing bear mascot costumes and holding cardboard signs that read: “Buy the Breads of Love,” the students — Fu Kuo-hao (傅國皓), Hung Tzu-min (洪梓民), Lin Wei-hsuan, Chen Yu-hsuan (陳祐瑄) and Tsao Che-wei (曹哲維) — arrived in Greater Taichung on Saturday on the first part of their trip.
They were offered free rides on public buses, where they solicited donations for the Breads of Love (愛的麵包) sponsorship scheme initiated by World Vision Taiwan.
Their costumes and enthusiasm prompted many passengers to make a donation by sticking coins or banknotes to a glue-covered board.
At first, the students worried that they might not reach their fundraising target, as it was drizzling by the time they arrived at the city’s Fongjia (逢甲) night market.
However, they attracted more contributions than expected and managed to raise a total of NT$3,780.
According to the World Vision Web site, the Breads of Love scheme has reached out to tens of thousands of hunger-stricken people in Ethiopia, built shelters for street children and helped improve the living standards of children in need.
The scheme has also endeavored to offer financial assistance to families with no stable source of income and to children who have been forced to drop out of school as a result of poverty, the site said.
People who make a donation receive a bread-shaped piggy bank which they can fill with spare change and mail to the foundation.
Fu, who organized the trip, said the idea to combine a round-the-country journey with a fundraising scheme was inspired by his visit to Phuoc Son in Vietnam last year.
“During my trip to Vietnam with members of World Vision, I was deeply saddened by the living standards of some Vietnamese children,” Fu said.
“After returning to Taiwan, I had some discussions with my friends and we decided to celebrate the end of our senior-high school years by going on a round-the-nation trip to raise money for children,” Fu said.
Tsao said his parents initially expressed concerns about the trip, but they changed their minds after learning about the purpose of the project.
“Although our journey has only just begun, I already feel a sense of fulfillment,” Tsao said.
World Vision Taiwan’s central area office director Yan Shu-chen (嚴淑貞) said the trip could also help the students put into practice the essence of serving those in need, calling on people to find different ways to reach out to children worldwide.