A Mission of Love on Good Friday: Tzu Chi Volunteers Donate Medical Masks in Long Island, New York

Northeast  |  April 20, 2020
Volunteers carry supplies to be loaded into a New York State Office of Emergency Management vehicle, then distributed in the NYC area. Photo / Joe Chang

Written by Christina Chang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

April 10, 2020, was Good Friday, a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which precedes Easter Sunday, marking Christ’s resurrection. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration of Good Friday in the U.S. was very different this year. Across the nation, the streets and churches were empty, as people were abiding by stay-at-home orders, and Christians had to honor Good Friday in more solitary ways.

In New York City, it was also cold, with the temperature dipping to 10 degrees Celsius, adding to the somber tone of the day. Still, volunteers from Tzu Chi USA’s Northeast Region’s Long Island Branch set out on a mission of love on Good Friday, continuing to deliver medical masks to police officers and healthcare workers. It is Tzu Chi’s way of supporting the efforts of all frontline heroes serving our communities through the pandemic.

Supporting Police Officers

On Friday morning, volunteers Huichen Lin, Joe Chang, and Jupiter Chiou of Tzu Chi USA’s Long Island Branch began their day by helping to load seven boxes, filled with a total of 14,000 medical masks, onto a New York State Office of Emergency Management truck. Tzu Chi had designated the supplies for donation to the Nassau County Police Department, for the use of frontline police officers on duty.

Tzu Chi volunteers brought 14,000 medical masks destined for donation to Long Island’s Nassau County Police Department. Photo / Joe Chang
Tzu Chi Long Island volunteers load medical masks onto a New York State Office of Emergency Management truck. Photo / Joe Chang

Volunteers Huichen Lin and Joe Chang then personally delivered 14,000 ASTM Level 1 Masks to the Nassau County Police Department. Alexandra Nigolian, Executive Director of Nassau County Police Department Foundation, accepted and signed for the donation on behalf of the police department. Both parties exchanged greetings with bright smiles that helped warm up the chilly morning.

Alexandra Nigolian, Executive Director of Nassau County Police Department Foundation accepts and signs for the donation of 14,000 masks. Photo / Jupiter Chiou

Meeting the Needs of Healthcare Workers

On Good Friday, another Tzu Chi volunteer, Sheena Chen, personally delivered 4,000 medical masks to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York. These will also be of tremendous help in protecting frontline healthcare workers.

Laura Beck, Vice President of Rehabilitation at St. Charles Hospital, accepted the masks from Tzu Chi on behalf of this Catholic Health Services facility. Shortly after receiving the donation, which Sheena Chen had delivered early that morning, Laura sent her an email at 9:24 AM to express her thanks.

On Good Friday, 2020, Tzu Chi donates 4,000 masks to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York. Photo / Sheena Chen
The email sent to the Tzu Chi Volunteer who made the delivery, expresses gratitude for the medical masks donated to St. Charles Hospital at a critical time. Photo courtesy of Sheena Chen

As it turns out, the hospital’s supply of earloop masks had dwindled to the last 100. Tzu Chi’s donation of 4,000 masks arrived at a very critical moment, immediately resolving the shortage of personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers at the hospital.

In her email to Sheena, Laura also asked to confirm the official name of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and stated her hope of receiving the photo taken of the two of them as the masks were received. 

he snapshot truly is a testament of how two individuals who didn’t know each other before, had created a meaningful connection because of their joint efforts at a critical moment during the pandemic.

Laura Beck (left) thanks Sheena Chen (right) for delivering medical masks before the hospital ran out of such personal protective equipment completely. Photo / Sheena Chen

Frontline healthcare workers and public servants, such as police officers, urgently need support as they care for our communities. Let’s send our love to help keep them safe!

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