SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) – The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation continued its benevolent efforts to help put food on the table of families affected by the COVID-19 crisis by donating food packages to 129 families earlier this month.
A total of 22 volunteers took time out to assist in the distribution drive. For many of them it was the first time experiencing a food package relief drive with the foundation. Families had to register in advance to receive the food package relief A total of 135 had registered and 129 showed up to collect their packages on the day of the event.
Having to battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is extra difficult for some families as the homes of many are still in a state of disrepair almost four years after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the island causing widespread destruction and devastation in September 2017.
While recipients were waiting on their food packages, they were offered water and snacks by volunteers, who also took time out to share information on how Tzu Chi started by founder Master Cheng Yen, whose charity work began with a group of 30 housewives who set aside NT 0.50 cents (equivalent to US $0.02 cents) of their grocery money each day to help needy families.
Master Cheng Yen’s dedication and continued commitment over the years has transformed Tzu Chi into one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world. Tzu Chi has built many hospitals and schools worldwide and has helped hundreds of thousands around the world. It has over 10 million members in 129 countries.
One of her philosophies is that giving is not the privilege of the rich but is the privilege of a sincere heart.
Recipients were grateful to receive the food packages, and they also had an opportunity to give to create blessings.
“I am very happy to receive the help because I need a lot,” said one recipient. “I don’t work and I have some problems. I am so happy that Tzu Chi can help me. It is beautiful that you are helping everyone.”
Another recipient expressed her gratitude. “Thank God for the Tzu Chi Foundation and God’s blessing for helping everybody and for giving people some food to eat. The situation right now is bad, people cannot work and are in the house all day. The situation is bad, but God is good. Everyone is happy for the foundation and its help.”
Volunteer Kenneth Skerret originally had a day mapped out to focus on himself, but when he saw the volume of work that was required he decided at the eleventh hour to give a helping hand to assist. “We delivered some packages and assisted people who were really in need,” he said adding that because of Tzu Chi’s organization, the event flowed smoothly and went without hiccups. “I myself couldn’t believe everyone was orderly especially when they saw the smile from the Tzu Chi volunteers… Everyone needed a package and we tried to assist each and every one because that is pure love from the heart. This is Tzu Chi and we always want to give love.”
Volunteer Mathew was grateful for the opportunity to be able to help in the distribution process. “Tzu Chi Foundation is doing a great job and the help is coming in handy because things on the island are slow right now,” he said. “I hope you can keep up with what you are doing. I see a lot of sharing. A lot of people are in need and a lot of people are happy to receive the help. I am happy with what is being done. It is very helpful.”
First time volunteer M. Cocks was humbled by the experience. “It’s my first time with Tzu Chi Foundation on Pond Island and I really enjoyed it. It was nice meeting and interacting with people. It was a nice gesture to help, and I would love to continue.”
Another volunteer said it had been a pleasure volunteering with Tzu Chi for the first time helping, giving love and sharing with persons in the community, who are in need.
Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all volunteers for their humble efforts and recipients for graciously accepting the food packages with a grateful heart.