FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
San Dimas, CA (September 14, 2020) – On September 6, the Bobcat Fire ignited in the Angeles National Forest. It caused ashes to rain from the sky over the San Gabriel Valley, with smoke shielding the sun and making it difficult to breathe. To help protect residents from smoke, Tzu Chi USA volunteers distributed 1,500 free handmade cloth face masks at the Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool at 206 E Palm Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016 on Thursday, September 10th, and Friday, the 11th.
An Arcadia resident, named Ms. Wu, accompanied her mother to pick up their masks. On the messaging app, WeChat, she saw a message that Tzu Chi USA would be distributing them for free. Her mother said that the smoke in the air made her eyes and throat uncomfortable.
Ozzy, a Monrovia resident, received a message from the Los Angeles County government about the distribution and stopped by on her way home. Another resident from Glendora said she saw a posting on Facebook. She expressed that she really liked homemade cloth masks, so she made a special trip to get them.
Tzu Chi USA’s Chief Executive Officer, Jackson Chen, said that Tzu Chi had activated its disaster relief efforts as the Santa Ana winds season began. It has established a command center to monitor the development of wildfires throughout the state of California, and is readying its emergency relief services to help.
Jackson explained that Tzu Chi volunteers held this urgent mask distribution in Monrovia because the air quality there had become so poor. One pack of five washable/reusable, cotton cloth masks were given to each household. 300 packs in total were distributed.
Tzu Chi volunteers also heard from some residents living at the foothill of the mountain by the city of Monrovia. City officials had already notified residents on September 9th to prepare for evacuation should it be necessary. One resident described that the fire was burning across the mountain and began burning downward. She expressed her fear that it would reach the base of the mountain and into residential areas.
In response to the Valley Fire, too, which has affected several cities in San Diego County by the US-Mexico border, Tzu Chi USA has sent 6,800 medical masks to temporary shelters in the area. The masks have the dual purpose of increasing protection from COVID-19 infection and the inhalation of smoke.
Nevertheless, evacuations and disaster relief in a pandemic comes with its own complications for responding agencies and the residents of Southern California. At this difficult time, Tzu Chi USA continues to encourage the spirit of mutual help among neighbors. To do the best we can to keep our communities safe from danger on all fronts, contribute to Tzu Chi USA’s Together While Apart fundraiser:
About Tzu Chi USA
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is a global non-profit humanitarian organization founded in 1966 by a Buddhist nun named Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan. Its missions of medicine, charity, education, and humanistic culture has brought relief to 102 countries and counting. In 1989, Tzu Chi USA was established and now has 62 offices across the US. The heart of Tzu Chi is embedded in its name: in Chinese, “tzu” means compassion and “chi,” relief.