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Lei Feng spirit lives on in cobbler's Harbin workshop

Updated : 2019-09-06

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying ( China Daily )

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Cobbler Meng Guangbin teaches soldiers how to mend shoes in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Cobbler Meng Guangbin said the most precious thing about his 30 square meter shoe repair shop in northeastern China is its trademarked Lei Feng name after the model soldier celebrated in China for his selflessness and modesty.

Meng, who runs a shoe repair shop in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, has mended over 120,000 shoes for free and donated more than 30,000 yuan ($4,365) to poverty-stricken students since arriving in the city from Dongping county, in East China's Shandong province, in 1988.

"At that time, I only had a stall near Harbin Normal University and the simple shed couldn't withstand the extreme cold in Harbin's winter," the 55-year-old said. "I still remember the day an elderly man gave me his cotton-padded coat when he found my frozen hands had left me unable to work.

"The old man and his coat brought me great warmth and made me decide to repay the city I considered my second hometown. I decided to try my best to help those people in need."

Meng is very conscientious in his workshop and the low prices he charges also attract lots of customers.

"Although it is quite a small thing to mend a shoe, I have to earn the respect and trust of my customers," he said. "I choose the best material and won't choose used material repeatedly."

He provides free services to the disabled, and poverty-stricken college students and residents.

Every weekend and holiday, he rides his bike to barracks, welfare homes and communities where he provides help to soldiers, the disabled and poor people.

He has also taught soldiers how to mend shoes and donated nine shoe-repair machines as well as materials to them, which were well received.

"I am not rich and the shoe repair shop is the sole source of income for my family," Meng said. "To save money, my wife usually goes to the market just before closing time to buy vegetables and fruit that are on sale. We often receive old clothes from relatives and friends, so we seldom buy new clothes."

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