Written by Pheel Wang
Translated by Sophie X Song
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
On August 21st, 2021, enthusiastic energy abounded at Tzu Chi USA’s Washington D.C. Regional Office in Reston, VA. Where many activities at the regional office had been put on pause during the pandemic, on this day, three relief events were held simultaneously. With help from our friends at Pediatrics of Seven Corners, Dr. Tung Duc Nguyen and Dr. LamSon Nguyen, and in collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, Tzu Chi volunteers successfully held a COVID-19 vaccine drive and joint food and school supply distributions to serve low-income families.
In the last 15 years, Tzu Chi USA’s Greater Washington D.C. Region has collaborated with local schools to empower children and families from low-income households all across Virginia and Maryland. During the pandemic, Tzu Chi volunteers have endeavored to meet the needs of the communities they serve by delivering their care in the form of groceries and cash cards. And with students returning to in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year, Tzu Chi USA’s Greater Washington D.C. Region set a fundraiser in motion to provide backpacks filled with school supplies to students. Notebooks, folders, loose-leaf paper, pens, pencils, markers, and colored pencils, were among the essentials included in the backpacks.
To promote accessibility and convenience for the COVID-19 vaccine, the Fairfax County Health Department arrived at the D.C. Chapter to set up a service station for administering the vaccine to local residents. Eighteen guests received their first dose of the vaccine with the utmost efficiency and care at the event.
Bags brimming with pantry staples were also presented to families, hoping to help uphold the community’s health not only by administering COVID-19 vaccines, but by providing nutritious food as well.
After receiving the pantry staples, families picked up school supplies for the coming year. The backpacks filled with essentials were carefully arranged with consideration for students’ needs. The planning, purchasing, organization, and distribution of the school supplies took over one month to achieve, starting with the compilation of a list of students and their respective grade levels. Through these activities, 40 volunteers served 70 families.
To serve families who would have to travel farther to get to the regional office, a distribution of food and backpacks took place at Dr. LamSon Nguyen’s clinic, which has graciously worked alongside Tzu Chi several times in the past. Parents were able to pick up their pre-arranged groceries while children happily selected and tried on their new backpacks. This separate event served a total of 18 families and 43 students.
While a vaccine is now available and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the pandemic is still ongoing. Therefore, volunteers continue to wear protective face coverings to promote the wellness of the community.
With diligence and care, volunteers strive to deliver the resources needed to nurture a brighter future. And together with the love of selfless donors who help make events like these possible, we hope to sow blessings for success in the new school year.