Written by Wendy Tsai, Pheel Wang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
On December 23rd, when Tzu Chi volunteers from Washington DC donated care packages full of groceries to low-income families at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School, volunteers were deeply moved upon meeting a Spanish-speaking parent, Rubio Galing. Rubio had handed the volunteers a handwritten ‘thank you’ card, and inquired after a member of the school’s staff to assist with translation.
The thoughtful gift to Tzu Chi volunteers was written with words of sincere and heartfelt gratitude, and is adorned with a pendant depicting a little angel playing the flute.
Volunteers completed the last food distribution for 2020 on the day before Christmas Eve. And even while the pandemic is ongoing, these essential supplies are still delivered to the elementary school on a monthly basis.
“Volunteers from the Tzu Chi Washington DC region have held food distributions for under-served families in the community where JoAnn Leleck Elementary School is located for nearly 16 years,” said Frank Chen, the Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Greater Washington DC Region. “When obtaining the essentials, it is actually difficult because sometimes we’ll come out empty-handed, and I have to find another store to purchase the essential supplies. The volunteers never give up, especially during the pandemic. There are many families affected, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to help. Several volunteers have continued to help families in need and I’m grateful for everyone’s support,” he explained as he looked back upon the year’s final distribution.
Christmas Eve was near at hand when the December distribution had taken place, and so the volunteers assisting with translation wore red and green in the spirit of the holidays to create a festive atmosphere. Many families who came to pick up the care packages at the distribution event also wore festive colors, the hope and joy of all abounding.
Freddy Climaco, a Community School Coordinator who assisted with the distribution, also thanked Tzu Chi for all their support along the way. Tzu Chi volunteers strive to ensure families facing multiple barriers can obtain the resources they require, and during the holiday seasons, volunteers hope that the warmth and food provided will help ensure they also know their Tzu Chi family is here for them.
“These families are lovely. When we offer support, they also give back with positive energy. They are always so grateful, especially to the Tzu Chi volunteers and the Foundation,” Freddy had said with sincerity.
Dr. Harold Barber, the Principal of JoAnn Leleck Elementary School, also thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for their continued grocery distributions, and for supporting the needs of the children at their school with compassion. “Tzu Chi always made sure the students can get enough nutrition when they prepare the food. The families often eat food staples like beans so they can focus on learning.”