Tzu Chi and Cathedral Kitchen Deliver Love and Warmth in New Jersey

Mid-Atlantic  | January 14, 2021
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Tzu Chi volunteers from New Jersey distribute winter supplies to families on December 15th. Photo/Suikie Pang

Written by Lihua Yang
Translated by Diana Chang  
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

Due to the pandemic’s ongoing spread across the United States, whether or not to serve hot meals during the holidays became something of a test of wisdom for volunteers from New Jersey. Before the pandemic, Tzu Chi volunteers from Cherry Hill had served hot meals at Cathedral Kitchen — the largest emergency food provider in Camden, NJ. During the pandemic, however, volunteers had begun serving their nutritious vegetarian food outdoors to uphold the wellbeing of the community and continue to care for the residents of Camden. At the end of the year, Cathedral Kitchen also held its crucial winter distribution, and Tzu Chi volunteers delivered their essential supplies with love to the nonprofit organization in person.

Preparing Winter Supplies With Care

The founder of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, the venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen, guides volunteers to serve with compassion to provide sincere relief and support. And as volunteers continue serving with love, it’s crucial indeed to uphold mindful, preventative practices to safeguard the health of all. 

A Tzu Chi volunteer named Lihua Yang, who was in charge of this distribution, considered the health and safety of the volunteers carefully, and made the necessary arrangements. The preparation included communication and coordination with Cathedral Kitchen, and the smooth delivery of obtained supplies. The delivered supplies included warm gloves, hats, socks, and scarves. Also within the care packages were personal hygiene products, like towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and a comb, as well as a Jing Si Aphorism bookmark to care for both the body and spirit.

Volunteers pre-pack the supplies at home. Photo/Weikang Bao
Carefully packed supplies are ready to be delivered for the winter distribution. Photo/Meijun Yue

Giving With Sincerity

Although it was cold on the day of the distribution, the sky had fortunately cleared from the previous day’s heavy rain, and volunteers were grateful that the distribution could proceed uninterrupted. On the same day, Cathedral Kitchen had graciously distributed meals at the door along with a voucher. With this voucher, guests received hot soup in addition to the winter care package.

Tiffany Grove, a staff member at Cathedral Kitchen, was truly instrumental to our collaboration during the pandemic. The staff had also become familiar with Tzu Chi’s distribution procedures, and thoughtfully arranged the stations with Tzu Chi’s posters in both English and Spanish, and even placed heaters inside the tents.

Cathedral Kitchen arranges the distribution site with Tzu Chi’s needs in mind. Photo/Lihua Yang
Every bag of supplies includes a Jing Si Aphorism bookmark in the hopes that the message may provide comfort during difficult times. Photo/Lihua Yang
People wait patiently in line to pick up the much-needed supplies for the winter. Photo/Lihua Yang

A total of 164 individuals benefited from this distribution, and with compassion at the very core of each mission they undertake, Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to strive to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Compassion is not only expressed through words; it is to be realized through service to humanity.

Jing Si Aphorism by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Although the temperature had dropped, the tents were far more comfortable thanks to the sincerity of Cathedral Kitchen. Photo/Suikie Pang

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