On February 21st, college students affiliated with Tzu Chi New York Collegiate Youth Association came together to help the homeless community of New York City.
Alumni of the association and experienced Tzu Chi volunteers came along to mentor, and with their support, the group handed out Tzu Chi blankets and scarves, and grilled cheese sandwiches, oranges and water bottles.
In total, 35 volunteers took part in this initiative, and were divided into six groups, each consisting of a senior volunteer, alumni member, and at least one male participant.
Even though some found it hard to ask the homeless if they wanted anything, or had a difficult time locating them in the first place, in general each group offered something to at least 1-2 people fending for themselves on the streets.
A total of 34 blankets, 34 scarves, and 28 meals were given out, with people getting the items they requested.
In the volunteer sharing session afterwards, everyone agreed that the homeless men and women they met were far from greedy in their response to what was offered. They only took what they needed, and some even told volunteers where to look for their friends so as to share their good fortune with others.
A feedback survey was sent out following the Collegiate Youth Association’s charity mission, and many suggested pre-scouting to learn where to find homeless people, since some groups went to areas that didn’t have any at all.
Overall, it was a valuable learning experience, and for many students it was the first time they had the opportunity to meet people in dire circumstances. Everyone involved came back feeling like they did something great and they took something away from it.
But for the homeless, tomorrow will likely bring another day of despair and struggle.
Giving isn’t something we should do on occasion. Let’s open our hearts and let it become a new way of life.