Young and old donate to help those in need

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Young and old donate to help those in need

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Han Choo-hyang, left, and his wife Kim Kwang-yeon, donated 10 million won (9,520 dollars), a large portion of their annual salaries, to the Jindo County Scholarship Committee on Dec. 23. By Oh Jong-chan

The Jindo County Scholarship Committee recently received a 10 million won ($9,520) donation from an elderly couple. The money was submitted on Dec. 23 by 74-year-old cleaner Han Choo-hyang and his wife, Kim Kwang-yeon, 65.

To the surprise of officials at the county office in South Jeolla, the couple donated the majority of their yearly wages working as public bathroom cleaners.

The two seniors are also raising their 13-year-old grandson. Their own son died in a car accident in 2000, and they have not been in contact with their daughter-in-law in years.

“I’ve always been grateful to school teachers who have treated our grandson as their own son, buying him stationery and books,” Han said during an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “As a way to repay that kindness, I suggested to my wife that we donate 10 million won to the scholarship committee, which she happily agreed to.”

The couple donated the money to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of their marriage.

But Mr. Han and his wife aren’t alone in their efforts. There are dozens of instances over the past year in which ordinary people made heartwarming contributions to those in need.

Twenty-four students at Sunju High School in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, donated 1 million won on Dec. 26 to the North Gyeongsang branch of the Community Chest of Korea. They raised the money by selling donuts they baked in their cooking class. The youngsters all have special needs.

Starting in June, they baked donuts and muffins and sold them during their lunch hour. One muffin cost 500 won, and three donuts sold for 1,000 won.

“I felt great to be able to help someone in need,” said Suh Gwang-cheon, 18, one of the students.

Lee Woo-ho, 82, and his wife Kim Bok-sun, 75, also made a significant donation this winter.

The couple, who run a tiny 6.6-square-meter (71-square-foot) grocery store in Busan, donated 10 million won on Dec. 27 to the Busan district office.

Kim said he raised the money partly by collecting paper early in the morning throughout the past year, making only about 1,500 won a day.

“I am very glad that I have been able to help those in need,” Kim said. He added that he would continue to collect paper as long as his health allowed, to raise money for charity.

BY KIM SANG-JIN [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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