Tzu Chi Volunteers Deliver Groceries to NYC Seniors Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

Northeast  |  April 3, 2020
Tzu Chi NY volunteer Eric Chiang delivers groceries to Mrs. Tu at her home. Photo from Daphne Liu and Jupiter Chiou

Written by Pheel Wang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by  Dilber Shatursun

“We are delivering blessings for you,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Eric Chiang as he dropped of groceries at Mrs. Tu’s home in Queens. The delivery came at the right time: the new coronavirus pandemic had already taken New York by storm, making routine activities like grocery shopping a hazard particularly for the immuno-compromised and the elderly. Mrs. Tu is in her 80s and is also a Tzu Chi volunteer.

On March 18, Tzu Chi volunteer couple Sansan Chiang and Eric Chiang loaded their van with bags of pre-packed groceries, with one person driving and the other delivering it to the door. Throughout the day, they shuttled through the streets of Queens to make deliveries. Not only concerned for their nourishment and availability of food at home, the Chiangs also used this as an opportunity to check in on their elderly community members.

Tzu Chi volunteers Sansan Chiang and Eric Chiang deliver groceries across the borough of Queens, New York.
The gesture brought smiles to every open door.

In order to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of the virus, both Sansan and Eric wore face masks and kept their hands sanitized. The groceries were either placed in front of the homes they visited or presented from a safe distance. “Stay home if you can, okay?,” Sansan reminded Mrs. Tu. She replied with a wide smile and a ‘thank you.’ Despite social distancing, Tzu Chi volunteers are making sure to keep community elders feel comforted and not alone.

Tzu Chi NY volunteer Sansan Chiang reminds care recipients to keep a safe distance.

Much of the groceries came thanks to Tzu Chi New York’s regular food pantry program, where Tzu Chi volunteers distributed dry goods, pantry staples, and fresh produce on a weekly basis. These were then packed for delivery instead to homes.

On the other hand, we made good use of these groceries and relayed the message of adopting a vegetarian diet.

Eric Chiang, Tzu Chi NY Volunteer
Though a single bag of groceries only lasts for so long, the love and care behind the getsure spreads positivity in a time when it can be scarce.

Unsure of what is next, Tzu Chi volunteers from all across New York are committed to showing their beloved neighbors that someone is looking out for them – especially in a time of crisis.

"Our messages of love and care will continue. The Tzu Chi Northeast Region will provide assistance to those in the Tzu Chi family whenever necessary.

Freeman Su, Executive Director of Tzu Chi Northeast Region

Give Tzu Chi volunteers like those in New York the resources to keep efforts like this going.

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