Written by Enpu Kuo
Edited by Qihua Lo
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On the afternoon of Nov 26, 2022, the All Saints Episcopal Church across the street from the Tzu Chi Center in Manhattan, New York, was full of busy Tzu Chi USA volunteers. Some volunteers moved tables, some sorted clothes, and others hung up the signs indicating New York’s 27th winter clothes distribution. Yet, even though the weather was cold, Tzu Chi USA volunteers stood tall and busied outdoors to deliver warm clothes to the underserved.
New York has three winter coat distribution locations this year: Flushing, Manhattan, and Elmhurst. According to the needs of each region’s population, Tzu Chi USA prepared the clothes accordingly. Tzu Chi USA volunteer San San Chiang said, “Today in Manhattan, the distribution targets are mainly local unhoused people. Most of the clothes we prepare are large-sized. In addition, we also replace quilts with Tzu Chi USA eco-blankets, which are convenient for them to carry and use.”
In addition to winter clothes and blankets, Tzu Chi USA volunteers also prepared gloves, fur hats, and scarves so that the unhoused had enough clothes to fend off the cold.
Empathize with Their Suffering and Inspire Great Love
Tzu Chi Northeast Region has cooperated with the All Saints Episcopal Church to distribute food and winter clothes for four years. On the fourth Saturday of every month, volunteers would go to the Tzu Chi Center to cook vegetarian bento boxes, and then take them to the church across the street to distribute to homeless people. During the Thanksgiving holiday, warm winter clothes would also be distributed, so that homeless people can have warm clothes to keep out the cold during the cold snap. In addition to bento boxes this year, the volunteers also carefully cooked borscht, hoping to convey a heartwarming blessing on Thanksgiving Day.
At 4 PM, people rushed to the church one after another. Volunteers carefully explained the use of each piece of clothing. Volunteers would pick up a scarf on the table when they saw people with thin clothes and carefully wrap them around them. They kindly explained, “we made this scarf from six plastic bottles. It symbolizes not only continuous recycling but also the cycle of love. We hope this can warm your body and spirit during this cold winter.”
Margo, Marie, and Johanna are middle school classmates. During the Thanksgiving holiday, they met to participate in Tzu Chi USA volunteer activities. Although it was their first time participating in distribution, they gained a lot from the event. They said, “Through the activity, we realized that every effort we make can influence and help others, and it can make a difference in our society.”
All Saints Episcopal Church volunteer Sunday Okafor also participated in the distribution enthusiastically. He was touched to see the two religions coming together without barriers or distinction but joined only by a shared desire to help others.
Warmth to the Body, the Stomach, and the Heart
In addition to the donations from volunteers, a generous manufacturing company also provided brand-new gloves and fur hats. Martha, a mother of four, took her daughters and happily selected coats and scarves. She said, “The weather is getting colder, but we don’t have enough winter clothes to keep warm. The clothes we received today are enough for our family to survive through the winter.”
Mark is currently unemployed and has no spare funds to buy warm clothes. He expressed his gratitude to Tzu Chi USA for the humane arrangement, which provided delicious food and allowed him to obtain warm clothes after receiving the food, which solved all his needs at once.
This time, the distribution of winter clothes came to a successful conclusion with warm wishes and gratitude from the volunteers and the public. The love of Tzu Chi USA volunteers is like a light in the dark, lighting up dark corners of the bustling city. We hope that this love continues to grow and accompany the residents in difficulties through the cold winter.