In the past decade, He Chunyu has donated about 20,000 yuan (approximately $3,000) to more than 300 poor students in his school.
He, 44 and a Chinese teacher at Lingshan Township Middle School in northeast Heilongjiang's Wangkui county, raised the money by selling discarded plastic bottles, paper and other waste products he collected.
He was born to an impoverished rural family and completed his studies through financial assistance from relatives and villagers.
He decided to return to his hometown after graduation in 1998.
"When I learned some of my students would drop out of school because of poverty, I was quite uneasy," he said. "However, I had no better way to help them due to my low income at the time."
In order to obtain money for students in need, he began to collect waste products in his spare time.
"The best time for me to collect is after students take out the trash in the morning, during lunch break and after school," He said.
"My colleagues often jokingly call me 'King of Waste' and my wife often complains about my dirty clothes," He told China Daily. "However, they all give me great support."
In 2009, He garnered much attention after his story was broadcast on local TV.
The local education department decided to establish a fund in the school to help needy students.
He also contributed his donations to the fund.
"Actually, what I can do is quite limited, but I hope I can express my warmth and concern for students in difficulty, which may encourage them to persevere," he said.