Student’s Facebook Page Collects Bonus Points to Feed Homeless People
While many people use social media to share their lives, one young person at NTU has been putting this emerging technology to work with the goal of helping others. When Teng-ju Ku, a student at the Graduate Institute of Social Work, learned that students overseas had started a drive to collect meal cards for distribution to homeless people, he decided to set up a Facebook page called Help Homeless People Eat, which he has used to run a charity drive that collects convenience store bonus points in order to feed homeless people. For over a year now, Ku has collected bonus points and exchanged them for foods, such as sweetened soy milk and instant noodles, that he provides to people who sleep on the streets.
Since starting his campaign in March 2013, Ku has exchanged bonus points for 3,300 packaged bowls of instant noodles, and his Facebook page has gained more than 3,200 fans. He has already held six rounds of the charity drive, and intends to press on. Ku says, “The momentum of the sixth round has not waned from that of the last few rounds. Our large fan base and renown mean we are able to get the word out without needing to go through the mainstream media.
Ku makes weekly postings of the number of bonus points collected in order to ensure the campaign remains transparent for the generous people that make donations. He also designs electronic fliers for each round that state the principles behind the drive and provide important information. Each time Ku posts a poster to the campaign’s Facebook page, two to three hundred people share it on their own Facebook pages.
The Help Homeless People Eat page reads, “Want to help others, but feel the power of one person is too small? Want to take part in the community, but find it difficult to make the time? When you get 7-Eleven bonus points, doesn’t it seem like you haven’t really collected that many?” It is the sincerity of Ku’s message that evokes people’s compassion.
Ku takes time each day to respond to the wideranging opinions expressed on the page, which include even discriminatory and intolerant remarks about homeless people. Nonetheless, he approaches these difficulties as a challenge. The way he sees it: “Giving people with differing viewpoints the opportunity to engage in discussion on this platform is a way to build consensus.”
Still, Ku has witnessed an outpouring of kindness from every corner of society. One female student even donated 700 points at one time. Another person felt his or her points were too few and so donated NT$2,000 and two NT$100 gift certificates. Some students even set up their own collection boxes.
Now, Ku, feeling his own power insufficient, wants to organize a club to bring people together and help even more homeless people.