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March 31, 2010

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Children's prize art is saving lives

TEACHING children about helping others while also encouraging their creative talents was the aim of a recent competition held by Shanghai coffee chain Wagas.

In collaboration with four international schools and pre-schools, the chain held a competition for students to design artwork.

Jacquelyn Wu, 10, of Concordia International School, Jessica Wang, seven, of Shanghai American School, and Sophie Xu, five, of Kids Bright Star won the "Kids Help The Kids" art competition.

The winners have had their artworks printed on gift cards that are sold in all Wagas stores to raise money for Shanghai charity Baobei Foundation.

The gift cards cost from 15 yuan (US$2) each and all proceeds go toward the Baobei Foundation.

Baobei means precious child in Chinese and the charity was founded by Chinese and foreigners to raise money for lifesaving neurological and gastro-intestinal surgery on orphan infants and young children.

As well as surgery, the foundation also provides intensive post-operative care and therapy to ensure that the children make a full recovery.

Baobei's managing director, Carol Hoag, says that since the foundation was launched two years ago it has helped 45 children have operations that cost about 42,000 yuan each.

Wagas has raised more than 80,000 yuan since partnering with the charity last year.

"The money raised through Wagas has effectively saved two lives and they have also helped raise awareness about the vital work we do through displays in their shops," Hoag says.

"This is something that we can't always do that well easily ourselves so it is great exposure."

Baobei works with Dr Bao Nan and the Shanghai Children's Medical Center (SCMC).

Dr Bao donates his time to travel to orphanages to visit children in need and is one of China's foremost experts in pediatric neurosurgery.

Wagas has run a number of fund-raising initiatives through its 14 outlets, including a Baobei tea that raised 60,000 yuan and a Thanksgiving dinner that raised 15,000 yuan.

Wagas part-owner Jackie Yun says the cafe and restaurant chain had chosen to support the charity because money raised was used for urgent lifesaving surgery for some of China's most vulnerable young lives. "With Baobei we see the immediate results of how the funds we raised are used," Yun says.

In an example of the work the foundation does, Hoag says they had transported an infant from Henan Province that morning and she would undergo surgery the same day.

Baobei has funded nine operations since the start of the year.

The donors, many of them from Shanghai, are usually individuals and community groups organizing fund-raising events.

"We have been able to do surgery for 45 children so far and half of those are already matched for adoption or have been adopted so it is going even better than we initially thought," says Hoag.

"Seventy percent of the money we raised comes from Shanghai and 30 percent from the United States, and because we have this great partnership with SCMC we get a lot of good attention and people can really see what we do. They visit the babies and help care for them after their surgery."

Donations for the US-registered charity can be made via its Website at

Wagas and its new bakery outlet Baker & Spice will be selling the cards throughout the Chinese Year of the Tiger.


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