Packages of Love and Care for Washington’s Quarantined

Northwest  | September 18, 2020
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Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers deliver care packages for residents quarantined at a hotel. Photo/Nina Chang

Written by Fandy Tsai
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

For those being quarantined at hotels in Washington state, the anxiety and periods of wait are unkindly generous. Do they have COVID-19? If so, has it spread to their loved ones around them? Who will take care of the others in their household – their elderly, children, or pets? If their condition worsens, and they can’t return to work or have accumulating medical expenses, will they face financial problems at home? Will they make it?

Determined to help them quell their nerves, Tzu Chi Seattle mobilized a team of volunteers to deliver care packages to quarantine centers to let residents know: they are not alone.

Gifts with Blessings

On July 14, four of Tzu Chi’s collegiate youth group, also known as Tzu Ching, visited Tzu Chi’s Seattle office to help prepare the care packages for residents residing being quarantined at a local hotel. These residents otherwise did not have the proper facilities at home to self-quarantine after they faced risk of exposure to the potentially fatal virus.

Inside each bag were washable cloth masks, a copy of the Tzu Chi Journal, a Jing Si Aphorism bookmark, prayer cards designed by Tzu Ching, blessing cards, and foods like Jing Si Noodles, Jing Si Tea, and some vegetarian-friendly snacks. These items were included in the hopes that the reading material could provide them with some encouragement and spiritual wisdom, plus nourishment during a trying time.

The budget for these gift bags may not be much, but with the love from Tzu Ching [volunteers] and their care when making these blessing packages... it's priceless.

Nina Chang, Tzu Chi Seattle Volunteer
Tzu Ching volunteers begin assembling the first care package. Photo/Fandy Tsai
Volunteers source the items to include that reflect Tzu Chi’s spirit of compassion and relief. Photo/Fandy Tsai

As Tzu Ching volunteers assembled the last care package, the joy was overwhelming. With all the items included, they took more than two weeks to put together! The bookmarks included Jing Si Aphorisms that the volunteers personally selected – those that would be relevant to the recipients’ time in quarantine. They were then printed on special paper, and the prayer cards, too, included messages of hope and optimism. When done, the care packages were sent to a hotel in Issaquah, WA.

The care packages are complete. Photo/Fandy Tsai

Planning the Delivery of Vegetarian Meals

On July 13th, families lined up outside the school as of 6 AM to patiently await the beginning of the distributioWith the pandemic being so widespread and unlike any other disaster Tzu Chi volunteers have worked through, they began to participate in community meetings at King County Public Health in the Greater Seattle area every week. Their purpose was to understand the focus and policy of the city for pandemic prevention measures and pandemic relief.n. A local named Nelly Perate told volunteers that she has a family of six. She and her husband have been unemployed for almost three months. She’d just found a part-time job one week prior, but it’s not enough to provide for two children and two seniors, so it’s crucial that she receives food from events like these to reduce expenses.

In mid-June, Tzu Chi volunteers further discussed with the King County Public Health Department about the possibility of Tzu Chi providing vegetarian meals. In addition to providing nutritious meals to possible patients, volunteers hoped the meals could spread the message of ethical eating and encourage more people to try a vegetarian diet.

While we were still thinking about the details of the vegetarian meal plan, we came up with the idea to deliver gift bags first, so these quarantined residents will know that they were not alone.

Haochieh Hsueh, Tzu Chi Seattle Volunteer

Heartfelt Moments

After noon on July 16, Tzu Chi volunteers loaded the gift bags onto their vehicle and off to delivery in Issaquah, at a former Holiday Inn. Due to the pandemic, King County bought the hotel and designated it as a quarantine space for those who did not have the capacity to self-quarantine at home. Since the people staying there are suspected COVID-19 patients, fences were installed in front of the hotel, and additional management personnels and security guarded the entrance.

After the volunteers introduced themselves to security, they drove in and parked right by the entrance and moved the supplies to the table in front of the entrance. Daniel Floyd, the director of the quarantine quarters was already waiting in front of the door to welcome Tzu Chi volunteers.

Tzu Chi volunteers bring care packages to a quarantine center in Issaquah, WA. Photo/Nina Chang
The thoughtfulness of Tzu Chi volunteers was welcomed by Daniel Floyd. Photo/Nina Chang

In addition to introducing Tzu Chi as a volunteer-based organization, the volunteers also carefully explained to Daniel the source and purpose of each gift in the bag, especially the Jing Si Noodles, which were sent by the Masters of Tzu Chi Taiwan. Daniel saw the sincerity from the Tzu Chi volunteers. He explained the situation of the people quarantined at the hotel, as well as possible meals needed, so that the volunteers can better plan their vegetarian meal delivery.

The power of love can soothe our mind, harmonize society and eliminate suffering.

Jing Si Aphorism by Dharma Master Cheng Yen

King County currently has three quarantine centers, and the other two are located in Kent, WA and in the northern part of  Seattle, WA. Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers hope to have the opportunity to assist the residents in these two other locations and help them successfully complete a safe quarantine experience with love and care.

Help us do more for those struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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