Our volunteers are there across the USA, offering charity community and family services with compassion and care, focusing on the underprivileged and underserved. We reach out and visit nursing homes, senior centers, homeless shelters, and other institutions, providing distributions of food, clothing, blankets, and other essentials, along with spiritual support.
MOBILE FOOD PANTRY
Most recently, we launched a weekly Mobile Food Pantry program that travels to the heart of disadvantaged communities to offer free and healthy food to anyone in need. Between November 2016 and August 2017, 30 food distributions took place in San Bernardino, Orange County, helping 4,634 families, and benefitting more than 18,957 people.
FOOD BANKS AND HOT MEALS
Our ongoing food banks have also been serving low-income families, patients, and homeless shelter residents for some time. Just in 2015, 35,170 people benefitted from this program, while we also distributed 71,998 hot meals to homeless individuals, hospitalized children, seniors, and parolees.
Regular winter distributions are another way our volunteers provide comfort and aid when the chill of winter and its associated hardships descends. Our reach and scale of services is expanding, and starting in 2015, we have been helping at least 9,000 people per year, distributing cash cards that provide instant financial aid, winter clothing items and blankets, and even toys and books to cheer up the kids.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DESERVING STUDENTS
For many underprivileged students, despite their academic record or humanistic aspirations, the dream of a university education may not always materialize. Our Tzu Chi Scholars need-based awards assist community-minded college-bound high school graduates and returning undergraduates who face financial hardships. Our awards totaled $232,000 in 2016 as a sample year, helping 232 students follow their dreams.
FREE TAX RETURN PREPARATIONS
By participating in the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, our volunteers help low-income families complete their tax returns for free. For struggling families and newcomers to America this service is vital. In 2016, 208 volunteers clocked 8,443 hours (valued at $198,529) to assist 2,168 individuals in filing their tax returns, helping them benefit from a total of $ 2,441,614 in tax returns.