Written by Er Guan
Edited by Scarlett Liu
Translated by Ariel Chan
On August 4, 2023, the 27th Dallas Mayor’s Back To School Fair was held at Fair Park. The event was organized by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in collaboration with non-profit organizations, corporations, and local volunteer groups. Tzu Chi USA Central Region Dallas Service Center was invited to provide services and essential school supplies for students in need in kindergarten through 12th grade residing in the City of Dallas.
Every year, the Dallas city government screens low-income families using information provided by the Dallas School District. City Hall then issues vouchers based on the number of children in the family for school essentials like stationery, uniforms, etc. This free distribution event allows children to receive necessities before starting the school year. On top of the items provided by the city and other organizations participating in the event, Tzu Chi also distributes uniforms to any student who needs one.
Tzu Chi USA Central Region has been deeply involved in North Texas education for 30 years. This year marked the 20th time it has participated in the Mayor’s Back To School Fair uniform distribution event. This annual back-to-school event is a perfect way to serve the Dallas community, alleviating the economic burden for low-income families in the area.
On the day of the event, volunteers from Tzu Chi USA Central Region woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning and arrived at the exhibition hall at 7 o’clock to set up the booth. A total of 30 people participated in the event.
At 8 o’clock in the morning, participating citizens entered one after another, and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also walked into the exhibition hall, taking enthusiastic photos and interacting with the attendees.
As more and more citizens came in, a line of over a hundred citizens gradually formed in front of Tzu Chi’s booth. In less than four hours, over two thousand student uniforms and hundreds of school items were distributed to families. Volunteers also took the opportunity to distribute Bamboo Banks and introduce the story of Tzu Chi’s Bamboo Bank to everyone who visited the booth.
Some of the parents who accompanied their children expressed that, in recent years, inflation has caused a severe increase in prices, with an average increase of over ten percent on many household necessities. The price of uniform tops more than doubled. In previous years, they had to spend a lot of money buying school supplies. This wave of inflation undoubtedly added insult to injury for them. Therefore, Tzu Chi’s distribution was of great help to them, relieving some of their economic burdens and allowing their children to start the new school year off on the right foot.
Tzu Chi volunteer Weifen Zhang brings her son and daughter to assist with distribution every year. She said, “The greatest meaning of being a volunteer is to ‘seize the moment and do good in a timely manner,’ and while increasing blessings and wisdom, it makes one feel younger and more alive.”
Her daughter, Peiting Li, also said that such activities made her realize that she is fortunate: “I am very grateful that my parents arranged education and living necessities for me, allowing me, as a child, to have no worries. Joining the team of volunteers allows me to understand the saying ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
The essence of charity should be sincere giving. The Dallas Tzu Chi volunteers participating in this Mayor’s Back To School Fair are sowing the seeds of Tzu Chi’s Great Love through sincere giving, spreading it widely, and hoping that the children of these families in need will be able to repay their gratitude to the community in a future not too far from now.