PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation recently wrapped up its massive “love rice” relief distribution programme on the island distributing a total of 2,000 bags of individually packed 10kg (approximately 20lbs) rice to needy individuals, families and organisations on both sides of the island.

The rice relief programme began in July 2016 and continued until late last month, when the last batch of rice was donated. The rice distribution programme was done in an effort to alleviate the burden on persons and organisations in need on both sides of the island in the current economic downturn.

page5c278The massive initiative was realised thanks to the involvement of a total of 232 Tzu Chi volunteers who took time out of their busy schedules over the eight month project to assist in the distribution programme. Together the volunteers racked up a combined total of 472 volunteer hours. Rice was distributed to a total of 33 locations on both sides of the island to 1,787 recipients. It is estimated that a total of 5,754 family members of recipients would have benefitted from the rice donation.

page5d278A wide range of organisations benefitted from the rice relief programme including Key to Freedom Foundation located in the district of St. Johns Estate, a rehabilitation facility for substance abusers; St. Martin’s Home for the elderly in St. Johns Estate; Daus Advantes Church located on the A.Th. Illidge Road; Back Street fire victims; Safe Haven Foundation for battered and abused women and children; the I Can Foundation Children’s Home; Huis van Bewaring (Pointe Blanche Prison); community leaders in the Spanish-speaking community; the Eglise de Dieu de La Delivrance (Church of Deliverance) in Cay Hill as well as a very large number of residents in several districts in St. Maarten and St. Martin including some of Tzu Chi’s long-term recipients.

page5e278The donations of rice around the island were made possible thanks to the 2,000 bags of 10kg “love rice” donated by Tzu Chi’s head office in Taiwan. The rice was distributed to persons, who are in need from all walks of life and from many different nationalities living in both Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. Tzu Chi‘s head office plans to continue its support of St. Maarten/St. Martin by donating another container of rice in May 2017. This rice will also be donated to the needy on the island as Tzu Chi continues to spread its seeds of love.

Tzu Chi volunteers expressed their gratitude to the public for giving them the opportunity to spread seeds of love via the love rice distribution programme. Through the programme volunteers got an opportunity to visit different organizations and witness the many leaders who sacrifice their time to help others. Many recipients were deeply thankful to Tzu Chi for the donations of the love rice proving to them that love has no religious or other boundaries.

Tzu Chi volunteers are also very thankful to Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen for the generous donation of the 20ft container of 20tons of white rice, which were packaged in 2,000 individually packed 10kg bags for the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin and for giving local volunteers a chance to reach out and do good for the island.

Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung is grateful for the participation of volunteers in the initiative; to Master Cheng Yen for donating the love rice and to the community of St. Maarten/St. Martin for accepting the donation.

She said Tzu Chi will continue to carry out its mission on the island to help in whatever area it can.

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