COVID-19 Relief: Tzu Chi Delivers Essential Supplies to Vulnerable Populations in Illinois

Midwest  | April 21, 2020
A McHenry County Government representative accepts the donation from Tzu Chi for the homeless shelter. Photo by Yahmei Hsieh

Written by Yue Ma, Yahmei Hsieh, & Connie Chow
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

Although springtime in Illinois is growing warmer, temperatures still may drop to as low as 4°C (39.2°F) after sunset. Presently, in addition to these sudden temperature drops at night, the homeless population also faces the potential of constant exposure to the deadly novel coronavirus amid the new Stay-At-Home and shelter-in-place orders. Local government officials have urgently set up a number of homeless shelters, so individuals may take shelter to avoid or reduce the chances of catching the virus.
Volunteers from Tzu Chi’s Chicago Chapter received a call from the National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (National VOAD), in the hopes that Tzu Chi could assist the McHenry County Government’s homeless shelter program. Tzu Chi volunteers immediately implemented a plan to prepare warm DA.AI eco-blankets and bags of essentials containing items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, and soap, to help homeless individuals stay warm and maintain good personal hygiene to avoid getting sick.

Volunteers prepare essential supplies to support the McHenry County Government's homeless shelter program. Photo by Yahmei Hsieh.
Some essential supplies for people who are homeless. Photo by Yue Ma.

Due to the unknown amount of time the stay-at-home precautions will need to remain in place to halt the disease’s spread, the shelter-in-place orders for homeless individuals, too, were extended indefinitely at temporary shelters. The economic impact has additionally affected donations to homeless service centers, and they are therefore running low on food. Sister Brown, the founder of the MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary serving Milwaukee’s Homeless Population is praying for miracles.

Tzu Chi volunteers who have collaborated with the center each winter during Tzu Chi’s winter relief distributions believe that no one should go hungry, the continued support helping to give sister Brown a little peace of mind at such a critical time. Volunteers gathered 60 big bags of rice and donated them all to the homeless shelter. The nuns were surprised and deeply touched by the action, and responded with a message of sincere gratitude on their Facebook page. 

Tzu Chi Milwaukee volunteers met with Sister Brown (second right), founder of the MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary. Photo by Meitzu Tsai
Bags of rice donated from Tzu Chi will support vulnerable populations during the pandemic. Photo by Meitzu Tsai
Sixty bags of rice embodies the compassion and relief of Tzu Chi members from around the world. Photo by Meitzu Tsai

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in communities across the country, please join us. From now until June 30th, your charitable donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, allowing you to give double the love. A generous sponsor has vowed to match donations raised for our COVID-19 relief efforts up to $500,000. Learn about our mission at Tzu Chi USA.

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