Back in August 2017, Rockport, Texas was devastated by strong winds and heavy rain when Hurricane Harvey made landfall there. Since then, local residents have made major strides in the area’s recovery. Tzu Chi volunteers have made several trips to Rockport to gauge recovery efforts. In early 2019, Tzu Chi began a partnership with the Children’s Coalition of Aransas County to assist those still in need.
To this effort, eight Tzu Chi volunteers traveled nearly three hours from Houston to Rockport on April 20, 2019, to participate in Rockport Market Day and Children’s Coalition of Aransas County’s (CCAC) Easter on the Beach event as part of the community outreach effort initiated after Hurricane Harvey.
On this beautiful Saturday morning, rife with soft sea breezes and temperate weather, Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at Rockport Beach bright and early to set up a table of items made of recycled bottles and a maze game to educate children and adults about recycling.
Children and their parents gathered round to hear volunteers explain the process of how Tzu Chi turned plastic bottles into yarn for fabric. They shared that their signature blankets, often distributed during disaster relief missions, were made using 70 recycled plastic bottles each.
All children then received a bag of recyclable paper, glass, plastic and aluminum items to play the maze game. After they put each item into the correct box, volunteers told them the story of the origin of Tzu Chi bamboo bank and how they can help one another by putting a few pennies into a coin bank every day. They then were each given a bamboo bank to take home.
Children also got to pick out a Jing Si Aphorism scroll to read. This gave them a briefly worded piece of life wisdom as they enjoyed the festivities.
Amid Easter egg hunts, arts and crafts, and many other fun activities, many local residents who had received relief funds or had learned of Tzu Chi during Hurricane Harvey came by to say thank you and to make donations.
One resident said that they didn’t have the opportunity to say thank you after they received help, so when they saw the logo on the Tzu Chi tent, they just had to come by to express their gratitude. She said Tzu Chi’s funds really gave them a psychological boost and allowed them to get back on their feet more quickly.
It was such a wonderful and amazing experience to witness their joy and happiness. Even though there are still many residents who still need help in their recovery, Tzu Chi volunteers’ enthusiasm and energy will hopefully carry the people of Rockport, Texas through their difficulties in the days ahead.