At 20 years old and working two jobs to help feed his family, having dropped out of college to help keep the family shop afloat, Lin Chin-hsiang could be forgiven for falling asleep at the wheel of his car after a tiring shift in the restaurant where he works by night. He could have done without crashing into three Ferraris, belonging to three friends who were preparing for a scenic convoy.
The clean living Lin, who had not been drinking, was shocked to find the damage he was done – but was more worried about getting into trouble with his mother! Mr Lin’s monthly wage of 35000 Taiwanese dollars is equivalent to around $1100 (£750) so when the owners contacted him to explain the repairs would come to around $390,000 (approx. £310,000) the young man was distraught.
What happened next will warm your heart for the festive season!
Taiwan is a country of two halves – the wealthy, and those like Mr Lin – and when the story was picked up by the media, something extraordinary happened. The police station that handled the accident started to receive calls offering donations to help Mr Lin and his family; people turned up at their shop – also their home, and not much more than a tin shack – offering help, and soon the local authorities had no option but to set up an account for donations.
So far, in excess of 100 donations have been made – some from people who are also struggling, who have donated the equivalent of $4, and others from more wealthy benefactors, with the largest being a donation of $6500. The total raised at the time of writing is around $24,000 – a long way short of what is needed, but the money is still coming in.
The Ferrari owners have, meanwhile, been the subject of a social media campaign suggesting they should not ask Mr Lin to pay the damages; of course, they are entitled to do so, but have collectively said they don’t expect him to pay immediately, and they will talk to him once they have consulted their insurance companies to discuss a repayment plan.
In another heart-warming touch, the college from which Mr Lin – who has an elder brother in similar employment and a sister still at high school – dropped out in order to help his mother has invited him to return, and to complete the final year he was working for when his father died.
Mr Lin insists that he will cover the costs, as it is the right thing to do, explaining: “I’m really sorry to have hit their cars, really sorry. It wasn’t intentional… Even though it will take a long time, I committed a wrong. I should still pay for it.”
If there is a story that encapsulates kindness and the very spirit of the festive season, we think this is it!
Images Copyright of: BBC.