Tzu Chi and Tzu Shao Charitable Aid Benefits Bootleg Fire survivors

Northwest  |  December 2, 2022
Tzu Shao interviewed survivors about the disaster. Photo/ Ruidan Fei

Written by Wing Xin Yang
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley

Tzu Shao Portland Service Center and the Tzu Chi Seattle Branch have officially established a Tzu Chi High School Club this year. The aim is to spread the Foundation’s spirit and help the underprivileged. Since the summer, the team members have been actively planning various charitable activities, focusing on supporting the survivors of the 2021 Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon last year.

The Bootleg Fire Wreck Havoc While Tzu Shao Sent Warmth

The 2021 Bootleg Fire, caused by lightning, broke out in Fremont-Winema National Forest, about 15 miles northwest of Bly in Klamath and Lake counties in south-central Oregon. 

The locals affected by the wildfire dwell deep in the mountains and live a primarily self-sustained lifestyle. However, the fire destroyed all of the locals’ belongings. Tzu Chi Portland Service Center volunteers went deep into the disaster area on August 29, 2021. They launched a distribution program in the stadium in Bly, Klamath, on September 18 to distribute cash cards, blankets, and sleeping bags and to express condolences to the survivors. Tzu Chi funded rebuilding households during winter, the most challenging season for survivors. Additionally, it provided three months of natural gas supply. 

In the summer vacation of 2022, the Tzu Shao organization continued to promote medium and long-term care for survivors of the Bootleg Mountain Fire. Support included revisiting survivors and giving out care packages. Through contact, the Tzu Shao team learned that residents had no access to clean water. After various communication and coordination, they plan to provide 60 275-gallon water tanks to the disaster survivors in October to store water in preparation for the water.

Portland Tzu Shao and their allies enthusiastically assisted in purchasing the needed materials for the care packages and delivered them to survivors in person over two days. Tzu Shao knew water tanks were expensive and hoped to help raise funds.

In the past year, we have distributed food and supplies on many occasions, but it is not enough. Many residents still need basic assistance, such as food, water, and a place to live, so we need everyone's help.

Survivors warmly embraced Tzu Shao with gratitude. Image credit /Portland Service Center
A huge storage tank that is expertly placed. Photo/Ruidan Fei

Successful Charity Concert Raised Funds for Survivors

Tzu Shao decided to hold a charity concert to raise funds to purchase the water tank. The show was held on September 24, 2022, at the Beaverton Library. Tzu Chi volunteers from as far away as Northern California and Seattle came to join the event and contribute to the fundraising. Three generations of volunteers gathered on the day. In addition to enjoying the incredible and moving performance by Tzu Shao, they could also donate their love to charity through the charity sale of art pieces and drive the cycle of charity.

The concert performances included guzheng, instrument solo, ensemble, singing, and drumming. The energetic performance of the actors won many praises. Tzu Chi volunteers also took to the stage to perform the “A Thousand Hands” sign language performance. Before the show ended, a seven-year-old girl graciously stepped onto the stage. She sang “You Raise Me Up,” which was lively and lovely, adding overwhelming joy to the concert.

Today's concert is especially meaningful and supportive. This is the best time to pass on love and hope.

Disaster survivors came to collect water tanks. Image credit/Portland Service Center
The survivors received the water tank and showed a relieved smile. Photo/Ruidan Fei

Tzu Shao Traversed Disaster Areas to Send Needed Water Tanks

The Tzu Shao High School team collaborated with the charity organization “Relief Angels” to come to Bly, Oregon, on October 1, 2022. They distribute 60 275-gallon water tanks to survivors to store water before the winter hit.

The survivors live in the mountains all year round, and there is no running water in the city. As a result, most survivors need to store water in water tanks to provide water in-home. The fire polluted the water source survivors used to draw water, making it more difficult to obtain water. Donating water tanks reduces water collection frequency and makes access to water in-home more convenient.

“Winter is coming, so for those of us who don’t have wells, it’s challenging to get clean water,” said Christine Anderson, a disaster survivor.

In an interview, disaster survivor Alice Ray shared, “The water tank has benefited many people who have to transport water. We have two such tanks, but they were burned down in the wildfires, so replacing one is a big help for us.”

The distribution of the water tanks is a timely help. The survivors who received the water tanks expressed their gratitude to Tzu Chi. Alice said, “The water tanks can save our lives. We are very grateful for the help provided by Tzu Chi. Thank you, Tzu Chi, for doing this for us.”

The distribution ended successfully in a warm atmosphere, giving Tzu Shao a broader platform. The team cultivated harmony and cooperation and persevered to the end. Kind acts snowball over time, and small streams will converge into the strength of an ocean as we build a better future together.

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