Students crowdfunding for sanitation worker's phone brings cheer but also reveals inequality
By Li Yezi

2017-05-08 14:21 GMT+8

Ren Xingyu, a 63-year-old sanitation worker from southwest China’s Nanchong, Sichuan Province never expected he’d be ‘fooled’ by a kind of lie through a “crowdfunding for goodness”.
Photo via Chengdu Business Daily
Ren, who takes responsibility of a one-kilometer-long section of road next to China West Normal University, lost his smartphone last Tuesday. With passersby – mostly college students – helping to search for the phone, the word spread.
Two college students, surnamed Xia and Zhang, who believed it was nearly impossible to retreat the original phone, launched a crowdfunding appeal for Ren online to buy a new one. They planned to collect 800 yuan (115 US dollars), and the target was reached within four hours, with over 100 students contributing. Raising 817.24 yuan, Xia and Zhang bought a 699-yuan smartphone. However the shop assistants at China Telecom were touched by the students’ kind gesture that they too showed their support by donating a 100-yuan pre-paid card with the phone, according to Chengdu Business Daily. The residual amount of money was spent on T-shirts and shoes as a gift for the street worker.
Photo via Chengdu Business Daily
Ren rejected the gift Thursday morning when the students delivered the brand new cellphone to him. “You students have no money in your own pockets, how can I accept such a thing from you!” said Ren. However, Zhang convinced him to accept the gift by telling him it was a give-away bonus via a commercial campaign and cost them nothing. 
Photo via Chengdu Business Daily
“I don’t know how to repay their kindness. The only thing I can do is to sweep the streets cleaner for them,” said the old man.
While the story has touched the hearts of thousands online in China, for some it also reflects the high levels of inequality that currently exist in the country. A 2016 study by Peking University revealed that the richest 1 percent of Chinese households own a third of the country’s wealth, while the poorest 25 percent own just 1 percent of the country’s total wealth.