USC’s Chinese Student and Scholars Association celebrated Chinese Lunar New Year with its annual Spring Festival Gala on Sunday. This year, in addition to exciting Chinese performances and face-changing shows at the Gala, CSSA donated half of ticket sale profits to Hands On (展翼计划), a charity organization in China that produces free 3D mechanical limbs.

Andy Zhang, the director of CSSA's Event Planning Department, said that the CSSA eBoard members have been discussing how they can contribute to a greater cause.

"Our mission is to serve the Chinese student community at USC to help them, protect them and [give them] a better college experience," Zhang said. "I think we've managed to do that well in the past, but now we want to focus on giving back…to the Chinese community because that's our root and where we come from."

Zhang estimates that the event raised about $1,000 to donate to the charity.

Hands On, founded in December 2015, primarily serves young children who are in need of assistive devices by producing 3D mechanical limbs called "Cyborg Beasts." There are about 24 million disabled individuals in China, among which about 1 million are children between newborns to 14 year olds, according to the charity's website.

The goal of Hands On is to promote the use of innovative, yet inexpensive, technology to assist children in need and help them with daily activities. Zhang Yunwei, Hands On's project manager, said that the charity uses 3D printing to design and customize artificial limbs for each child.

"Today, Hands On has more than 16 factories that produce these mechanical limbs and more than 1,000 volunteers," Yunwei said. "We have already produced a total of 91 mechanical hands and arms for 55 families across 38 cities in China within two years."

As of November 2018, the charity has established partnerships with major corporations such as Microsoft Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, and Schneider Electric. In addition, Yunwei said that Hands On started to work with Nan Ji Xiong, a Chinese 3D printing platform, this year to create a large community of expert makers who can design better mechanical limbs and share industrial knowledge. The charity also hosts forums and workshops with schools and businesses to spread awareness and inspire more volunteers to join their movement.

Dancers perform at the annual Spring Festival Gala, hosted by the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, to celebrate the Lunar New Year | Karen Wang for Annenberg Media
Dancers perform at the annual Spring Festival Gala, hosted by the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, to celebrate the Lunar New Year | Karen Wang for Annenberg Media
CSSA’s donation will contribute to the production process, including the limbs’ design, materials, manufacture and trial of mechanical limbs that will be given to three children for free. According to Yunwei, each mechanical limb actually costs 3,500 yuan, which is about $500, to produce.

Zhang said that CSSA initially searched for Chinese charities online, but could not determine whether they were safe and reliable. They found out about Hands On from a friend who was interning at the organization and got into contact with them.

"We know the inside-out of how [Hands On] works to make sure that there is no corruption and to make sure that our money will go to the right place, into the right hands," Zhang said.

Zhang said that CSSA will be discussing the process of making the donation in detail with the charity, now that their annual Spring Festival Gala has been a success.

The CSSA holds the Spring Festival Gala every year to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with the USC Chinese student community because they are not able to celebrate the festival with their families back home in China. Past performances include dance crews, magic shows, bands, vocal performers and Chinese skits.