Tzu Chi’s COVID-19 Relief: Delivering Love Across the USA

National Headquarters  |  March 30, 2020
Jihsing Liu (left) and Wenhui Lee (right) from Phoenix, AZ, brought facemasks and a car full of food to a Taiwanese student named Qiaoting Situ (middle).

Written by 劉濟興、陳碧惠、劉又榕、陳英發
Translated by Penny Liu
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

As many people follow stay-at-home orders and follow social distancing procedures while the new coronavirus sweeps across the nation, feelings of loneliness have a way of taking root. Tzu Chi volunteers, however, have been offering their compassion and support to ensure that those who urgently need help can obtain the items they require. 

International students often leave their families to study abroad on their own. This creates great anxiety for their parents, and especially during these deeply complex circumstances. The Tzu Chi Phoenix office realized the difficulties faced by these young people, and thus, volunteers offered help to students who do not have face masks via the University of Arizona’s Taiwanese Student Association Facebook page.

Qiaoting Situ, a graduate student, saw this post and contacted the Tzu Chi office to seek help. After the virus spread exponentially in the United States, Dharma Masters at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien arranged to have a Tzu Chi Phoenix volunteer, Jihsing Liu, bring a case of face masks to the US from Taiwan to protect volunteers and help the local community. On the afternoon of March 30th, volunteers visited Qiaoting with a few of these face masks, disinfectant alcohol, a book of Jing Si Aphorisms, and a Jing Si bamboo bookmark. 

Qiaoting finally has face masks to protect herself.
Face masks and a disinfectant spray protect the body; Jing Si Aphorisms enrich the soul.

After meeting Qiaoting, volunteers discovered that her mother is also a Tzu Chi volunteer in Taiwan. Qiaoting was eager to share her story of the love and support she received with her family. The knowledge that Qiaoting now has these protective masks has helped to ease her family’s anxiety over her situation.

The next day, Tzu Chi Phoenix volunteers prepared delicious vegetarian sticky rice and purchased an assortment of vegetables, fruits, yogurt, eggs, and milk, and delivered them along with a bag of Jing Si snacks before the stay-at-home order took effect. This second delivery not only provided her with the nourishment she needed physically, but emotionally as well, as she knew her Tzu Chi Family was there for her. Qiaoting and her parents were both grateful for the assistance of volunteers. Their care and consideration provided much-needed support for this young lady while she is so far away from her own family.

I am very thankful for the help from Tzu Chi volunteers. I am so grateful and so touched! I have everything I need now and they are all my favorites. My mom and dad are also very grateful. Thank you again.

Volunteers deliver food before the 5 pm stay-at-home order took effect.
Delicious sticky rice was cooked by volunteers early in the morning.
Volunteers prepared shelf-stable foods for Qiaoting Situ with care.

Healthcare Workers

Empathy and compassion are always in the hearts of Tzu Chi volunteers, and especially during disasters. With the widespread shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) due to the spread of COVID-19, volunteers tried their best to find resources that could be provided for healthcare workers. Volunteers know how concerned healthcare workers are about the health of their patients, their personal health, and the health of their families whom they return to at the end of the day. Without proper protection, all are put at risk. 

Many healthcare workers in Sacramento were not able to wear masks because their hospital was forced to restrict usage to the frontline doctors and nurses directly treating COVID-19 patients. 

Beginning on March 25th, Tzu Chi Sacramento volunteers posted that they would be collecting PPE donations. In just two days, they collected 2,700 surgical masks, several N95 masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes. While volunteers were collecting donations, they also contacted two Kaiser Permanente hospitals and UCDavis Medical Center. Volunteers delivered the medical supplies along with the love and appreciation of the local community to these three hospitals on March 30th and 31st.

In other cities across the U.S., such as the pandemic’s epicenter in New York, Tzu Chi volunteers also delivered 2,000 surgical masks and 160 N95 masks to the Lincoln Medical Center.

Volunteers in Washington DC also joined in the effort. They immediately donated several hundred surgical masks and several N95 masks to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital. Yinfa Chen, the Executive Director of Tzu Chi Washington DC said that 20,000 surgical masks are on the way and will be delivered to various hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

In times such as these, what many people need the most is love. And indeed, with love and compassion, Tzu Chi volunteers vow to care for and support those in need during the coronavirus outbreak — all of which are cherished members of our global Tzu Chi family.

Tzu Chi volunteers brought 200 surgical masks and 5 N95 masks to Johns Hopkins Hospital as samples to be tested by Andrew Currie, Director of Engineering Services (left). Once the masks pass important safety and quality tests, the hospital will accept further donations.
Yinfa Chen (right), Executive Director of Tzu Chi Washington DC provides mask samples to Dr. Donny Gaun at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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