Tzu Chi USA’s Raleigh Service Center Reunites With Durham Rescue Mission for a Back-To-School Supply Drive

Greater Washington D.C.  |  September 20, 2022
Zhixing Chen, the volunteer in charge of the Back-To-School stationery donation, delivers backpacks filled with school supplies to Durham Rescue Mission (DRM). Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center

Written by: Yongshi Huang, Chiuyueh Hung
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Adriana DiBenedetto

In June of 2022, with the sun shining brightly overhead, volunteers from Tzu Chi USA’s Raleigh Service Center began organizing a Back-To-School stationery donation drive in North Carolina. Reuniting with our friends at Durham Rescue Mission (DRM), volunteers wished to help students prepare for the new school year with enthusiasm and peace of mind.

A Back to School Supply Drive Gets Underway

DRM Volunteer & Phone Bank Coordinator Supervisor Lenny Sutherland (second from left) and Tzu Chi volunteers display colorful backpacks for students. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center
Volunteers carry multiple backpacks at a time, ready to be delivered for distribution. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center

Founded in 1974, the Durham Rescue Mission seeks to provide a safe space for families experiencing homelessness, offering shelter, meals, clothing, and spiritual support. Each summer, DRM holds a Back-To-School stationery distribution for school-age children. Working together, Tzu Chi volunteers in Raleigh mobilized their families to prepare stationery items for children, hoping to bring smiles to their faces.


“This year, we prepared 2,000 stationery items,” said Lenny Sutherland, DRM Volunteer and Phone Bank Coordinator Supervisor. Lenny Sutherland also shared his gratitude to volunteers for their dedicated participation. And indeed, Tzu Chi aims to keep this meaningful activity going.

Young Volunteers Engage Through Service

Young volunteers help sort stationery items. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center
The four young volunteers involved in sorting and packing, Ruiqi Gao (back right), Rui’en Gao (back left), Zilong Xiao (front left), and Ziyang Xiao (front right), bring joy to the volunteer activity. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center

On the morning of July 1, volunteers gathered at the home of volunteer Chiuyueh Hung to help pack the school supplies. Volunteer Zhixing Chen, who was in charge of the stationery donation drive, also helped allocate tasks, advising the group on how to pack the various school supplies evenly into 30 backpacks. Based on her experience participating in a distribution event at Tzu Chi Academy, Washington DC, volunteer Yijun Chen suggested organizing stationery by type, such as pencil boxes and cases. 

Volunteer Yaomin Gao brought his two children, Ruiqi Gao and Rui’en Gao, and volunteer Yijun Chen was accompanied by her two sons, Zilong Xiao and Ziyang Xiao. The children from the two families are almost ten years apart, but right from the beginning of the activity, everyone worked together seamlessly, with a great deal of laughter during the process.

After the sorting was complete, each item was placed next to a school bag. The four young volunteers had been so helpful and orderly, and the adults were truly astonished. Finally, everyone worked together to arrange the stationery neatly into the colorful schoolbags and zipped them up, ready to be taken to DRM for distribution.

Sincere Care For Students’ Academic Success

The backpacks, lovingly filled with school supplies, are ready to be taken to DRM. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center
Backpacks contain notebooks, pencils, highlighters, loose-leaf paper, and more. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center

Each backpack filled with the care and support of volunteers was soon delivered to Durham Rescue Mission. Volunteers from DRM greeted Tzu Chi volunteers, and mothers clapped upon catching sight of the crucial supplies for the coming school year.

Volunteers hope that the warmth and care from this community activity will help ensure children and families know they’re loved, and that they are not alone as they stride toward their goals.

Stationery items are sorted one by one, and are ready to be carefully arranged in the backpacks. Photo/Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center

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