“Free Lunch” Charity Program — A Portion of Love in the Mountains

“Free Lunch” Charity Program

Back in 2011, before Taobao was the e-commerce app on everyone’s lips, Luoluo discovered a charity program on the app called “Free Lunch”. On the app, users can spend 3 or 4 yuan (50 U.S. cents) for a loving lunch for children in remote mountain areas.

Three or four yuan seems like nothing compared with the daily expenses of a white collar worker in first-tier city, but enough to buy a meal for the kids. In fact, 3 or 4 yuan could only buy limited things in today’s economy, perhaps only a can of coffee or a coca cola.

For seven years, the first thing Luoluo would do when she opened Taobao was to buy a “free lunch”, whether she was in office or at home. She was among the first to form the habit of buying everything on Taobao. It’s hard to tell which one is the trigger, shopping on Taobao, or ordering the free lunch.

Luoluo, a white collar worker in Beijing (source: Alibaba)

Until Jan. 15, she has been doing this consecutively for 2734 days in total. If you could persist in something for as long as seven years, it must have become a part of your life.

Many a little makes a mickle. “It has a butterfly effect. When I look back at the time and numbers, I would really think highly of myself. It’s like a constant reminder that I need to be a good person.”

Back in 2008, 10 years ago, when the Wenchuan earthquake occured in China’s southern province of Sichuan, her company organized a donation program dedicated to sorting out different materials, clothing or textbooks for children in the earthquake-stricken areas. At that time they would write their greetings and contact information on a small card and put it in pencil cases. She got really excited when she received a thank-you note from one of the recipients.

Compared with these offline activities, online charity programs may lack real-life interactions, but excel in their efficiency and feasibility.

“We admit that understanding the real-life impact for the kids is indeed more infectious than just pictures and words. We would consider adding interactions into it.” said Alibaba spokesperson.

SEE ALSO: Alibaba’s Taobao Marks Banner Year of Philanthropy Efforts

In terms of the execution of the program, Luo states that she has developed an inherent trust over the years and never once doubted whether the meals or materials were in fact delivered to the kids. “I have always been a sensible person. No one knows this story except for my husband, because I don’t like explaining to people the logic behind this, why I trust this program.”

Founded on April 2, 2011, the program was jointly launched by over 500 journalists, dozens of domestic mainstream media and the China Social Welfare Foundation. According to its original intentions, the “free lunch” program is operated by volunteers, government, media, charity organizations and e-commerce platforms

“Free Lunch” is not the only online charity program operated by Alibaba Group. To name another example, “helping veterans to come home” requires only 2 yuan from each donator but what each donation can do is considered “the most valuable thing in the world”.

According to data released by Alibaba a few days ago, in 2018, there were a total of 2.73 million people, like Luo, who have played their part in purchasing “the most valuable thing in the world” and the number of donations has amounted to 75.34 million yuan ($11 million). Save the money for a can of coke each day, and deliver a portion of love to the mountains.

Featured photo credit to mianfeiwucan.org