Tzu Chi Volunteers Pack Comforters for Burmese Refugees

National Headquarters  |  July 31, 2022
The volunteers carefully checked the quality of each comforter to make sure it was intact before they started packing. Photo/ Henry Nhan

Written by Lina Lee, Tom Chen, Henry Nhan
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Maggie Morgan

The last day of July was on a weekend, but the campus of Tzu Chi USA Headquarters in San Dimas was particularly busy. Volunteers gathered around ten long tables full of comforters and, despite the scorching sun, concentrated on sorting the comforters by thickness and size. Before packing them, the team checked the comforters carefully, making sure they were clean and undamaged. The Burmese temple was coming to the campus that day to receive the donations; the comforters will be shipped to the Thai-Myanmar border in mid-September so that the Burmese refugees can have a warm winter.

Everything for the Greater Good

Volunteer Aiqun Mi displayed a box with "Go Tzu Chi" written on it. She brought 15 bags of used clothes. Photo/ Lina Lee
When everyone folded the comforters together, it streamlined the effort. Photo/ Lina Lee

Since its inception, the Headquarters’ Treasure Hut has held numerous distributions and donation events and has long since gained a reputation. Recently, the Power Mindfulness and Detachment Center, a Burmese temple in Baldwin Park, indicated that refugees on the Thai-Burma border needed comforters to for winter, and the volunteers responded immediately by collecting and packing away.

Albert Hsu, a volunteer, said, “Treasure Hut has been collecting used clothes and other used items, including many comforters. Today, taking advantage of this chance, we all get together to take out the stock of comforters and organize and pack them so that the temple volunteers could come and pick them up at 5 p.m.”.

It was one of our happiest days and we were all very thankful. The comforters that the volunteers had worked so hard to collect had taken exactly one room, today, we finally had the opportunity to give them to people in need.

Volunteer Aiqun Mi regularly helps with collecting donations. On either a weekly or monthly basis, Aiqun drops off her donations to Treasure Hut. On distribution day, she brought 15 bags of clothes to contribute, and when she saw the volunteers working, she jumped in without saying a word.

Aiqun said, “Tzu Chi has a very good reputation in the United States. When I went out to collect used clothes, there was even a box with ‘Go Tzu Chi’ written on it. It was really touching. I am sure that we Tzu Chi volunteers will always be of one mind and do whatever we can together when there is a need. Everyone does his or her part and tries to do their best. I am thankful for the many volunteers who have quietly contributed to the campus, especially for the opportunity to do our part for the Burmese refugees.”

An Unforgettable Effort

All three members of volunteer Yumin Liu's family volunteered together and were grateful to have a great weekend. Photo/ Lina Lee
Volunteer Jiwei Sun packed the bags with the volunteers. Photo/ Henry Nhan

Yumin Liu, whose family came together to volunteer, said, “I’m really thankful today that our family had the opportunity to come to the Tzu Chi campus and participate in the environmental protection and resources recycling activities. Our son, Siyuan Liu, graduated from college this year. It is a wonderful and happy time for the whole family to come together to do our part for the refugees in Myanmar and to plant a field of blessings together. I hope we can have this opportunity again in the future to leave many unforgettable and wonderful memories for our family.

Volunteer Jiwei Sun said, “The Burmese temple, which we often work with, suggested to Tzu Chi USA Headquarters’ coordinator of the used clothes recycling program, Jihuan Xia, that the Burmese refugees needed comforters for the winter. It just so happened that Treasure Hut had a large collection of comforters, so we came over to help sort them out. This job looks easy, but in fact, it requires experience and skill. Today, I mostly followed the volunteers and was responsible for the larger, heavier comforters. Although it wasn’t easy to pack the comforters in such a high temperature, everyone was full of joy. It was especially meaningful for me to is to recognize one’s blessings in the face of suffering.”

A Long-term Relationship

Al Linn (second from left), the representative of the Burmese temple, helps load Tzu Chi donations onto the truck with the volunteers. Photo/ Lina Lee
Tzu Chi donations filled the carriage with not only comforters but also clothing and furniture. Photo/ Lina Lee

Al Linn, the representative of the Burmese temple, said, “In mid-September, we will be sending a container to the Thai-Burma border, Burmese refugees there are in need of comforters to keep warm, so we came over to collect Tzu Chi’s donation. We are very grateful for the donation from Tzu Chi, who has a long relationship with us and has been helping our headquarters in Thanlyin, near Yangon, Myanmar.”

I would like to say thank you for all the help from Tzu Chi, not only in Myanmar but also here, you have helped us a lot, a lot, thank you.

When the Cyclone Nargis wind disaster hit Myanmar in 2008, Tzu Chi won the trust of the military government at the time with sincerity and love, and distributed crop seeds and fertilizers to help farmers in need. After that, Tzu Chi entered this Buddhist country to provide disaster relief. From emergency relief efforts to building hope projects, from helping low-income students study to supporting local agricultural, Tzu Chi has jumped in head first. 

Tzu Chi’s initiative of “saving a handful of rice every day” in the rural villages of Burma has spread from village to village; it’s now become a story of goodness that’s gone around the world. In 2021, Tzu Chi donated 1,000 oxygen machines and 1,000 forty-liter oxygen cylinders to Phaungyi, the largest hospital in Myanmar, to help patients who contracted COVID-19. Fast forward to the most recent distribution for Burmese refugees: it’s clear the ripples of kindness and love are continuously rippling out, warming everyone they touch. 

The weather was so hot that the Treasure Hut volunteers were all sweating, their T-shirts were entirely drenched with sweat. Photo/ Lina Lee
Everyone took a group photo together after the work was done. Photo/ Lina Lee

More News Stories