Partnerships Expand Tzu Chi’s Back-to-School Supply Distributions

Greater Washington D.C.  |  September 28, 2022
Volunteers sort the school supplies for distribution before the start of the event. Photo/Huijing Cai

Written by Jiali Ji and Mouyou Cai
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

August is the back-to-school month in the United States. Each year at this time, Tzu Chi USA prepares school supplies for distribution to underprivileged students. In 2022, the Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region planned the back-to-school distribution in partnership with Truist Financial. The bank would provide backpacks while Tzu Chi would purchase the school supplies. On the day of the distribution, August 7, a total of 335 low-income families from Maryland and Virginia received backpacks with school supplies in affiliation with the Linkages to Learning Program of Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland’s largest school district.

A wide range of back-to-school supplies awaits the children coming to the distribution. Photo/Huijing Cai
A new backpack can bring a sense of excitement about the start to a new academic year. Photo/Huijing Cai

Collaboration Doubles Charity’s Power

The Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region has donated supplies to low-income families in Silver Spring, Maryland, for nearly 20 years. Over recent years, Tzu Chi has been giving new school backpacks to students from these families, helping boost their enjoyment of learning and motivating them to pursue higher education and more ambitious life goals. 

Truist Financial’s Lighthouse Project, which supports local nonprofit organizations in addressing critical community needs and mobilizes grants and volunteers, aligns well with Tzu Chi’s student aid objectives. Thus, the two organizations joined forces to implement the most extensive school backpack distribution program ever, expanding it from 30 supply-filled backpacks donated per school in the past to this year’s 335, which reached three schools and two service centers in Maryland and Virginia.

Addressing Every Detail With Care

The provision of school supplies may seem to be a simple affair. However, for the tasks of planning, fundraising, packing, and distribution to be executed properly and on time, they required the joint effort of Tzu Chi volunteers, Truist Financial staff and volunteers, and school social workers.

At the request of the Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region, the social workers of the three schools to receive backpacks started preparing the list of students to obtain the back-to-school supplies as early as mid-June. The list they presented entailed a detailed plan that named students in each age group from kindergarten to 12th grade and planned out the corresponding school supplies they would get. 

As soon as the list and budget were finalized in July, Tzu Chi volunteers started fundraising to purchase the stationery. Thanks to their hard work, they successfully reached the fundraising goal. Then, since mid-July is when supplies are on sale, Tzu Chi volunteers shopped around, hoping to get the best school supplies for the least amount of money and not waste a single penny of raised funds. Thanks to everyone’s concerted effort, everything was ready for distribution day.

A Joyful Distribution Event

Truist Financial employees joined Tzu Chi volunteers in helping to arrange all the supplies gathered over the past few months before the children’s imminent arrival at the distribution, completing the transmission of love.

Volunteers work hard to prepare the school supplies for the students. Photo/Huijing Cai

For a family with five children in school, the $50 market price of a school backpack, or spending $250 on school supplies this year, is a considerable financial burden. So while their parents breathed a sigh of relief upon receiving the free supplies, the children could focus on the joy of getting so much new stuff, which will surely help them look forward to learning during the 2022-23 academic year. The staff at each participating school was equally thrilled about the event and grateful.

Thank you, Tzu Chi, for donating the valuable school supplies that allowed us to help Summit Hall Elementary School’s students during this distribution. We’re very grateful for your generosity to underprivileged students, and because of you, our elementary school has a perfect start to the new school year!

The volunteer team takes a group photo at the conclusion of the distribution. Photo/Huijing Cai

Your love and support empower all of Tzu Chi USA’s missions, including charity aid for underprivileged students. May all children flourish in their studies and achieve their hopes and dreams thanks to our joint efforts to assist them along the way!

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