Some of the Tzu Chi volunteers, who participated in the exercise.
PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation helped spread some holiday cheer to 1,530 families just before Christmas when it donated food packages to the families in an emergency holiday relief.
A total of 1,530 packages were distributed, which is estimated to benefit 5,200 family members. Sacrificing their personal time to make the distribution possible over a five-day period were 158 volunteers. Efforts were made to ensure that social distancing and other protocols were adhered to during the distribution.
Persons waiting to receive assistance.
A recipient collecting a package.
A package being handed over to a recipient.
Of the 1,530 persons who received packages, 988 either have no jobs or no income, and 542 were backlogged in their rent.
The food packages contained a 10lb bag of rice, 10lb bag of flour, baking powder, 32oz bottle of oil, 1kg bag of brown sugar, dried black peas and lentils peas, salt, 4 rolls of toilet paper and a 32oz bottle of Clorox. Families with three or more household members received a 20lb bag of rice and a 20lb bag of flour, instead of 10lb bags.
The five-day relief was packed. On the first day, a total of 306 packages were distributed which was expected to benefit 1,080 family members. A total of 109 recipients were unable to pay rent for between one and nine months, and 197 had been either working for a few hours or had no work and no income. A total of 30 volunteers participated on the first day and a total of $297.25 was collected in Tzu Chi bamboo bank (recycled donation boxes).
For the second day, a total of 392 packages were distributed, which is expected to benefit 1,349 family members. A total of 109 of the recipients on this day were unable to pay rent for between one and 10 months, and 283 had been working for few hours or had no work and no income. A total of 35 volunteers assisted on the second day and $272.41 was collected in Tzu Chi’s bamboo bank.
Recipients were grateful for the items received. One recipient said she had no idea what to give her son for school as she did not have funds to buy even a loaf of bread. She and her children were very happy with the items received.
“I am very grateful for what the foundation is doing. We are very much in need and we are very grateful for these items. A lot of people need the help,” said another recipient.
Another said they were happy that persons had been able to receive help. Another said they had been thankful for the package, as things had been very tough in recent times. “It is a blessing to receive help from concerned people like you, and the members of your foundation. May God continue to bless you all so that you can continue to help,” one recipient told a volunteer. “Thank you so much for the groceries. Every bit counts, especially in these hard times.”
Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung is grateful to all the volunteers who came out on the various days to help bring smiles to families in need, particularly the new ones. “Their cooperation and understanding are highly appreciated,” Cheung said, adding that it was a wonderful experience working with all the volunteers. “We really touched lives.”
Volunteers were also happy to assist. One volunteer said he came over to Dutch St. Maarten from French St. Martin to help distribute items, because he wanted a chance to help persons in need and he enjoyed the experience.
Another volunteer said the exercise went smoothly and she was happy to have been able to assist during this time of crisis. “Even though this pandemic is here, we are all still feeling energetic. We are overwhelmed to see the situations that people face and happy to know that we can help them. I am happy and grateful that I am able to assist.”