By Florida, USA News Team (Originally in English)
As the weather turned cold in the autumn of 2012, members of The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association from Florida, USA received a contribution of US$10,000 from Master with a loving request to use the funds for winter relief work in our area. Our Association members then formed a team and began contacting local homeless shelters about their needs.
Based on the shelters’ requests, our team gathered supplies that included warm, fuzzy blankets, thick winter jackets, hooded sweatshirts, gloves, hats, socks and T-shirts. We also prepared personal-care bags containing hand sanitizer, toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap and deodorant. Copies of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s illustrated storybook God Takes Care of Everything, as well as supplies and toys, were also prepared for the children.
Outreach Mission in Sanford, Florida
On December 7, 2012, our team visited Rescue Outreach Mission in Sanford, Florida, which provides a safe, supportive and healing environment for the disadvantaged and homeless individuals, who receive food, shelter, and clothing as well as counseling to help them return to self-sufficiency. At the mission the team members distributed 62 packages, each including a blanket, a warm hat, socks and a personal-care bag.
Samaritan Comfort in Ocala, Florida
In early December 2012, our team stopped under a bridge in Ocala, Florida, where we distributed 27 blankets to the homeless people congregated there.
Central Care Mission in Orlando, Florida
On December 16, 2012, our team visited the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Florida, where dedicated volunteers from the city’s Central Care Mission were serving breakfast to homeless individuals. As the people left the Church they were given a pleasant surprise in the form of a package containing a blanket, a warm hat, two pairs of socks and a personal-care kit. The recipients enthusiastically expressed their thanks for the holiday gifts. A total of 200 packages were distributed that morning.
Orlando Union Rescue Mission in Orlando, Florida
On December 21, 2012, our team participated in the Orlando Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Banquet, where we distributed 710 packages containing a warm hat, two pairs of socks and a personal-care bag, along with blankets for the children. As our homeless friends accepted the gifts, they happily put on their new hats to keep warm on that extremely cold day, and expressed their thanks and best wishes for the holiday season. Orlando Union Rescue Mission is one of Central Florida’s oldest and largest service providers for homeless individuals. The Mission supplies food, clothing and shelter and its programs are designed to lead people who are homeless to permanent independence.
Osceola Christian Ministry Center in Kissimmee, Florida
In January 2013 we visited Osceola Christian Ministry Center in Kissimmee, where we supplied homeless individuals with 70 packages, each containing a winter jacket, a warm hat, gloves and socks. The recipients expressed their sincere thanks for the gifts and were interested in learning more about Supreme Master Ching Hai.
Homeless Helping Homeless in Tampa, Florida
That month our team also visited Homeless Helping Homeless in Tampa, Florida, an organization operated by former and current homeless people. The facility provides emergency shelter, free storage space and laundry and shower facilities to residents and non-residents alike, as well as services such as internet, fax, phone, personal-care kits and clothes closets. At the shelter, the group’s president, Mr. Adolphus Parker, gave our team a tour of the facility and its newly renovated women’s home, which the members had repaired themselves. Our team then gave 24 packages containing a winter jacket, a warm hat, gloves, socks, a T-shirt, a blanket and a bag of personal-care products to the residents, who happily expressed their appreciation.
Touched by Angel Ministries, Pinellas Park, Florida
On January 24, 2013, our team went to Pinellas Park’s Touched by Angel Ministries, which provides people who are homeless with emergency and transitional housing in a safe, clean, wholesome environment. The facility also offers classes in drug and alcohol education, budget and financial management and anger management, as well as family therapy. In addition, they provide assistance with disabilities, food stamps and Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as well as job referral and placement. The program focuses on ending the cycle of homelessness by helping people become functional and self-sustaining members of society.
At the Ministries, our team distributed packages containing 85 hoodies, 85 T-shirts, 85 bags of personal-care products (toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, and deodorant), 230 pairs of socks and 168 pairs of underwear. The children of homeless parents living at the shelter received 15 copies of God Takes Care of Everything, 15 blankets and 15 games/toys, as well as toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Tampa Angels Shelter for the Homeless Cold Weather Shelter, Tampa, Florida
On February 1, 2013, our team distributed 30 hoodies, 30 T-shirts, 60 pairs of socks and 30 personal-care bags at the Tampa Angels Shelter for the Homeless Cold Weather Shelter in Tampa, Florida. Tampa Angels is a group of compassionate people who serve hot meals to those hungry and homeless, provide shelter on cold nights and offer shower and laundry facilities. After arriving at the facility, we learned that the pastor who regularly prepared and served the meals was also caring for his blind, diabetic wife.
Food distribution at Homeless Helping Homeless in Tampa, Florida
Upon visiting the Homeless Helping Homeless shelter in Tampa, Florida, our team learned that the residents had no cooking facilities on the premises. We then began bringing vegan meals to the shelter, and by March 31 had already prepared seven meals, which included spring rolls, fried rice and vegetables, Thai noodles, BBQ vegan meat, chow mein, spaghetti with vegan sausage and vegan meat, and lasagna with garlic bread. These dishes were accompanied by vegan desserts such as apple-crumb muffins, chocolate truffles, chocolate-chip cookies, chocolate cupcakes, oatmeal-raisin cookies and pandan leaf cupcakes. After hearing that the meals had been prepared at a meditation center, Gale, the public relations representative for Homeless Helping Homeless, heartily expressed her appreciation for the yummy food that was both nutritious and blessed!
Throughout our gift-distribution efforts, we were humbled and thankful for the selfless dedication of the volunteers at Central Care Mission, Rescue Outreach Mission, Samaritan Comfort, Orlando Union Rescue Mission, Osceola Christian Ministry Center, Homeless Helping Homeless, Touched by Angel Ministries, and Tampa Angels Shelter for the Homeless Cold Weather Shelter. We were also touched by the hopeful spirits of the recipients, who despite their challenging situations exuded great warmth and appreciation for the smallest gestures of care. May such kindheartedness be the beacon leading us to a world of joy and comfort for all.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association
for Winter Weather Relief Work in Florida,USA
|Blankets, jackets, socks, hygienic products, warm hats, gloves, underwear, T-shirts, hoodies and toys||11,292.30||A|