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As Dangerous Cold Weather Hits, Tzu Chi Works with Dallas Gov. to Keep Homeless Safe

Central  |  December 18, 2019
Tzu Chi volunteers from Dallas branch provide eco-blankets for a local shelter in support of the homeless community. Photo by Shirley Wu

Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Natasha Palance

Temperature in the Greater Dallas area dropped below freezing from November 11th until the 13th, with nights so cold that temperatures plummeted to below freezing at 21°F (-6°C). In response to this state of weather emergency, the city of Dallas collaborated with the Tzu Chi Dallas branch to open a temporary overflow homeless shelter in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, complete with warm beds and the deliverance of 550 blankets to protect unsheltered community members from the frigid weather.

Standby for Blanket Distribution

Temperature in the Greater Dallas area dropped below freezing from November 11th until the 13th, with nights so cold that temperatures plummeted to below freezing at 21°F (-6°C). In response to this state of weather emergency, the city of Dallas collaborated with the Tzu Chi Dallas branch to open a temporary overflow homeless shelter in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

Dallas volunteers deliver blanket supplies immediately after receiving notice from the city. Photo by Shirley Wu

The following day on November 12th, the Dallas branch office received another message from the City of Dallas regarding an urgent need for additional supplies. After delivering an additional 200 blankets to the shelter, the team had successfully provided a grand total of 550 blankets within the two days.

Dallas volunteers distribute additional supplies as the dangerous low temperatures continue into the week. Photo by Shirley Wu

Adhering to the teachings of Master Cheng Yen, Dallas Tzu Chi volunteers stated: “As long as we can see with our eyes, reach with our hands, and walk with our feet, we must reach out to help them,” a sentiment held true throughout all Tzu Chi operations. The very same dedication was demonstrated two years prior, when the Tzu Chi Dallas branch mobilized volunteers to deliver 2,800 eco-blankets to the very same shelter after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in 2017.

A Blanket of Love

As the team delivered the blankets, temperatures plummeted to a chilly 30°F (-1°C), along with precipitation. Despite the cold and the rain, Tzu Chi volunteers prepared hundreds of boxes of blankets for urgent delivery. Upon arrival at the shelter, volunteers laid out the blankets on shelter beds one by one, presenting a card on each with great care that state: “This is a [blanket] made of recycled bottles, a blessing from Tzu Chi volunteers around the world. Tzu Chi will always be on your side.”

Tzu Chi’s eco-friendly blankets are different from ordinary blankets. They not only provide warmth, but also comfort the hearts and souls of survivors, as each serves as a reflection of Tzu Chi’s love from around the world.

Volunteers place a blanket on each shelter bed with great care and compassion.
A card accompanies each blanket to explain the process of making Tzu Chi’s eco-friendly blankets.
Photos by Shirley Wu

Every time Tzu Chi volunteers distribute blankets, they share the uplifting story behind how they are created. Each blanket starts from the selfless contribution of volunteers in the collection of recyclable plastic materials. With the mission of protecting the Earth, these recycled materials are then repurposed with love into blankets to be shared across the world into the hands of people in need. Once aid recipients are aware of the environmentally-beneficial production process, they often express a deeper sentiment of appreciation and are happy to share the global blessings from Tzu Chi volunteers who helped produce the blankets.

Collaboration with the City of Dallas

CEO of Tzu Chi Dallas Branch Yuanliang Ling (Jicheng) expressed great gratitude towards the volunteer team for their immediate response despite the freezing weather. As cold temperatures continued into the week, the City of Dallas set up several additional temporary shelters to house those suffering from homelessness. Tzu Chi similarly continued to extend compassion in the deliverance of blankets to warm the hearts and souls of the homeless community. 

CEO of Tzu Chi Dallas Branch Yuanliang Ling Jicheng (right) expressed gratitude towards a City of Dallas representative at City Hall. Photo by Shirley Wu

The Tzu Chi Dallas branch has collaborated with the City of Dallas on many cases. Ling explained that when a disaster strikes the community, or when other debilitating circumstances arise, “as soon as the local authorities give us a call, Tzu Chi volunteers will serve immediately; this is the mutual trust between us.”

Joyful Tzu Chi Volunteers

Stacy Qiu, a Tzu Chi volunteer working for the local government, happened to have the day off for Veteran’s Day on November 11th. She chose to spend this free time volunteering to give a helping hand in the blanket distribution at the temporary shelter. Chiu shared that when Hurricane Harvey first struck, she didn’t have time to volunteer due to her work schedule. This time a community emergency arose, she was happy to be able to dedicate time to help others. 

Dallas volunteer team takes a photo together after completion of the blanket distribution. Photo by Shirley Wu

The neatly arranged eco-friendly blankets rested on the shelter beds, ready to embrace the hearts of those less fortunate. As an extension of Tzu Chi’s love from around the world, it is hoped that each blanket will give those suffering from homelessness a warm blessing to accompany them through cold nights ahead.

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