Written by Wanling Huang
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
Edited by Jiali Liu
Volunteers from the Southern California Cerritos Service Center have provided fruit and vegetable distributions in Huntington Park, Los Angeles County, for over five years. In addition to supplementing family food expenditures, it provides much-needed nutrition for the residents.
In addition to the monthly fruits and vegetables distribution, volunteers donated school bags and supplies to low-income students. Volunteers also purchased school uniforms after they learned that 29 financially disadvantaged students in Miles Elementary School and Gage Middle School had none.
The lack of uniforms in stock in many stores made a common task difficult. School stores had been open for more than a month and had yet to replenish their supplies. Volunteers spent many days visiting seven or eight stores in several cities and also tried online shopping. Finally, after many attempts, they found uniforms for boys and girls of different ages and sizes!
On October 22, 2022, after volunteers distributed fruits and vegetables in the parking lot of Gage Middle School, they went to the outdoor dining area to distribute uniforms. Each student received two sets of uniforms, a coat, a bag of personal protective equipment, and a gift box carefully packaged by Tzu Chi USA youth volunteers.
Alejandra Pineda is the parent representative of Miles Elementary School. She has assisted volunteers in contacting parents and providing Spanish translation for many years. She was very grateful to Tzu Chi USA for helping families in need in the community.
Her assistant, Olga Lopez, was also very thankful to Tzu Chi USA for distributing uniforms to her 8-year-old son. She said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have financial difficulties, and some are new immigrants who cannot afford to buy them. Tzu Chi USA’s uniforms distribution has helped the students’ needs.”
Jennifer Mayorquin happily brought her younger sister to collect the uniform. She had also come two or three times before to accompany her mother as a volunteer to distribute fruits and vegetables.
Jose Suarez, fluent in English and Spanish, has been a Tzu Chi USA volunteer for more than seven years. He has participated in free clinics, distribution of fruits and vegetables, free tax declaration services, and assistance in case translation. He said, “I like the compassion of Tzu Chi USA, which has been helping people everywhere in the world.”
Every child who received the school uniform showed a contented and joyful smile, and the event ended amidst laughter. Protecting residents’ health has always been the goal of Tzu Chi USA volunteers. The act of kindness toward disadvantaged families will encourage more acts of goodness.