By Oregon, USA Relief Team (Originally in English)
Upon learning that a severe storm had swept through Washington, Oregon and Northern California, USA on December 11, 2014, Supreme Master Ching Hai immediately contributed US$15,000 for the relief effort, asking our local Association members to examine the situation and help those in need, especially elderly individuals, disadvantaged people and people living alone. To an 18-year-old man who had lost his father to the disaster, our Oregon Association members expressed our deep condolences and sent him US$1,000. To a mother who had lost her 11-year-old son, we could only send a loving message of consolation due to privacy concerns, and offered to deliver spiritual books to her if she wished. The remainder of Master’s fund, along with US$16,192 contributed by our Association members, was used to conduct winter relief work for those affected by the Oregon storm.
After preparing relief items, including sleeping bags, jackets, socks, gloves, tents, boots, thermal undergarments, airbeds and travel backpacks, our Association members began visiting people living outdoors in November, before the first cold storm arrived. We went into the streets to distribute long thermal underpants to many homeless people. One group told us the warm clothing had answered their prayers. We also offered a tent, a sleeping bag, a jacket and a pair of boots with socks to a man with a mental disability. To a young man who was hungry, we gave food and cash assistance, and also fulfilled Christmas wishes at various homeless centers in Oregon.
When ordering additional relief items, several stores kindly gave us extra discounts and went out of their way to help us. Thus, on Christmas Day, we were able to give more gift bags based on wish lists provided by a few more homeless shelters. The gifts of tents, sleeping bags and airbeds were especially appreciated by people who had lost most of their belongings to the recent storm. They were thankful to God for sending them exactly what they needed. We also tried our best to meet some special requests, such as a propane tank for heating and warm boots of all sizes.
In addition, some of our Association members carried warm winter items in their cars to give away at any time. One cold night, upon seeing some people curled up on the street, we immediately offered sleeping bags, which they jumped into right way. On Christmas Eve, one Association member drove around the city to make sure all the homeless people standing in the streets would receive a gift to bring them cheer. Many were happy to receive cash assistance, while others accepted gifts such as umbrellas, thermoses or propane heaters with surprise and joy. After receiving a heater, one older man was so happy he began to wave to everyone passing by. Also, one gentleman appreciated receiving some clothing items, but seemed to most enjoy just having someone to talk with.
We were touched by the saintly quality of many of the homeless people. For example, we met two homeless gentlemen in one city. One of them was blind, and the other took loving care of him. Another man we met was only wearing a thin, worn jacket, but asked us to give the warm coats we were distributing to others who he said needed them more. We kindly insisted that he also take a coat. These are just a few examples of the spirit of sharing, caring, humility and most of all gratitude to God that we witnessed among our noble friends.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Storm and Winter Relief Work in Oregon, USA
|Warm jackets, gloves, long thermal underpants, boots and socks||15,468.35||A, B|
|Tents, tarps, foam pads, sleeping bags, air beds, air mattresses and pumps||12,037.23|
|Backpacks, propane heaters, hand warmers, toe warmers and miscellaneous items||1,886.75|
|Cash contributions (US$1,000 to a storm victim, US$500 to a vegan activist and US$300 to Doctors Without Borders)||1,800.00|