We are dedicated to helping those who suffer due to poverty, hunger, or the lack of medical care. We provide a variety of charity programs for the unprivileged in our communities in the Houston area, which our volunteers offer with attentive care, cherishing the kinship and connections that blossom from each opportunity to serve.
HAPPY CAMPUS PROGRAM
We are part of Tzu Chi USA’s nationwide Happy Campus program which provides assistance to low-income students across the country. One of the participating schools in Houston is Landis Elementary, located in a low-income area. According to our survey, 95% of students are in the school’s free-lunch program. Every Friday, our volunteers distribute weekend food-packs to help ensure that students don’t go hungry before the start of the following school day.
After we learned that many parents can’t afford school uniforms for their kids, we organized our first distribution, providing 100 students with personally packaged uniforms and shoes in a bag donning their names. We now provide bi-annual distributions, providing school uniforms; holiday food bags; jacket, shoes, scarves, and socks; donations of books, and more.
Each semester, our volunteers also organize a Teacher Appreciation Day, during which they serve tea and desserts to the staff, while sharing Tzu Chi’s Bamboo Bank story and introducing Jing Si Aphorisms by offering books. The concise Jing Si Buddhist teachings inspire teachers, who later share the wisdom contained with their students. The Tzu Chi spirit also inspires donations on behalf of our current disaster relief and other critical missions.
DISTRIBUTIONS FOR THE HOMELESS
From the very beginning of our chapter, we provide an annual winter distribution for the homeless. It was held in various locations, but since 2013, Loaves and Fishes, a Christian charity that aids refugees in Houston, became our permanent distribution site.
Every year, we distribute more over 200 sets of items containing blankets, socks, scarves, and other clothes. We also provide toiletry items to the women’s center located on the second floor above Loaves and Fishes.
We offer health education and medical outreach, thanks to the dedication and service of volunteers from Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA).
We host “Health Talk” events 3-4 times a year, providing public health education.
Our bi-annual Health Fair provides an extensive range of essential medical, dental, and vision care services. To date we have served over 10,000 people in need of health care, providing peace of mind as well, as people are reassured by knowing that their medical issues have been addressed.
Acupuncture, social services, health education, Hepatitis C testing, bone marrow matching, and free haircuts are also offered during these outreach events. Our volunteers are on site to assist and guide those attending the fair, helping assure that each individual’s and family’s needs are met as far as possible.
Our volunteers go to the Houston Food Bank monthly, in order to sort, prepare, and distribute food to the homeless and low-income families.
They take the time to ensure that each food box is filled with healthy food, selecting the items with care, then personally cutting, peeling, preparing, and packing them, their heartfelt goal being that each recipient can prepare the best quality meals possible.
The distributions are another chance for underprivileged aid recipients and our volunteers to connect heart-to-heart, and create a mutually inspiring and lasting impression.
A HUMANISTIC PRESCHOOL
Our Great Love Preschool, which offers a kindergarten program as well, provides a curriculum that fosters humanistic culture by teaching moral values and environmental awareness, and nurturing the development of character and virtue in children.
Taught in a supportive and egalitarian environment based on the principle that “Education is without borders or distinction,” these students will carry the Tzu Chi spirit into the future, as they uphold its guiding values of gratitude, respect, and love. Our hope is that they will grow into caring adults who follow their hearts and help those in need.