Tzu Chi’s Grocery Distributions Ease Hearts in California

National Headquarters  |  August 31, 2022
Volunteers moved food boxes full of fruits and vegetables into the recipient’s trunk. Photo/Shuli Lo

Written by Shuli Lo
Edited by Chenglin Li
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

Early in the morning, the street just outside Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel, California, was lined with vehicles, as no one wanted to miss the Tzu Chi grocery distribution event taking place that day. Inflation has increased daily household expenses across the nation, making Tzu Chi USA’s regular community grocery distributions crucial for many at present.

Lin Ma shares a Tzu Chi Journal with a local community resident at the distribution site. Photo/Shuli Lo

Overcoming Challenges With Love

Community resident Yvette Niz was referred to Tzu Chi by the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley two years ago. At that time, she had just given birth to her youngest daughter, and rent and living expenses were stretched thin. Tzu Chi’s distribution events offering groceries, blankets, clothing, and cash cards, however, have helped the family reduce costs.

Thanks to Tzu Chi’s help, I have spare time to study online. Next semester, I will enter into the same university as my daughter.

Yvette Niz, Care Recipient

For Yvette’s family, Tzu Chi’s fresh fruit and vegetable distributions are deeply appreciated, as the price of fresh fruits and vegetables is constantly on the rise. 

Ms. A and her son are survivors of domestic violence. It is as a result of this that Ms. A’s son experienced a brain hemorrhage last year. The wound has since healed, but there is a long road to recovery after such experiences. Ms. A is a long-term care recipient of Tzu Chi, and she collects food boxes for other survivors. Ms. A has a cheerful personality, but when she spoke about her son’s injury, the pain in her heart could not be quelled, yet she expressed that Tzu Chi volunteers’ companionship has eased the way. When she saw the tidy distribution by volunteers that brought joy to the community, she was inspired to become a Tzu Chi volunteer, too. Tzu Chi volunteers took the opportunity during the distribution to understand her situation, and give encouragement.

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Frances Aow helps her brother and nephew retrieve groceries. Photo/Shuli Lo

A local community resident named Randy arrived two hours early and was at the front of the queue. At 9 AM, he was the first to drive in, and other cars followed into the parking lot one by one. “Severe inflation has caused prices to rise again,” he said. “Tzu Chi’s distribution of fruits and vegetables can reduce my expenses on food, which goes a long way in alleviating my financial burden.”

Resident France Aow also helped her brother and nephew collect groceries via the distribution. “If there are relatives and friends who can help people with limited mobility to collect food and deliver it to their homes, it would be a great help,” she stated. France Aow conveyed to volunteers that some people may not be able to make it to the distributions for many reasons, and she hopes that relatives and friends can take the time to help. When she additionally received protective face masks from volunteers, she recalled her own experiences, and shared her gratitude for supporting community health.

I am touched by the spirit of Tzu Chi, and I also really want to volunteer, show love, share happiness, help others in need, and do something for the community.

Marlene, Community Resident

Marlene, a local community resident, came to pick up fruits and vegetables for the second time. “These foods can help my family,” she expressed to volunteers. “It’s really helpful.” Marlene also shared that she would be reading Tzu Chi’s publications to better understand the spirit of Tzu Chi volunteers as they help others worldwide. Tzu Chi publications were offered to recipients in their preferred language at the grocery distribution, nourishing the body and uplifting the spirit.  

At the end of a successful distribution, everyone takes a group photo. Photo/Shuli Lo
A box full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo/Shuli Lo

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