Buddhist relief group provides holiday baskets to needy families

Los Angeles Wave, Dec 18, 2008

Members of the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist compassionate relief group based in San Dimas, present holiday baskets to 51 needy Lynwood families Monday

LYNWOOD, CA (USA) -- Things haven’t been easy for Kecia Harper and her two teenage sons since she became disabled and unable to work three years ago. But this holiday season, she is feeling especially grateful, with an unexpected gift from strangers.

Harper’s family and 50 others from Lynwood were treated to a holiday presentation of gift baskets yesterday by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist compassionate relief group based in San Dimas. Each family received a $75 debit card, a teddy bear, a box of candy and a “green” blanket made of recycled plastic water bottles.

“As a single parent trying to make ends meet on worker’s comp, this card is going to come in handy,” Harper said. “And with the cold spell we’ve been having, we really need this blanket.”

The foundation, which will help more than 800 needy families in Southern California this holiday season, turned to the Lynwood Unified School District and the city of Lynwood for help in identifying households in Lynwood that are particularly in need this year.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with the Tzu Chi Foundation, and we were happy to refer families to them from each of our three high schools,” said Principal Ron Grider of Vista High. Each year, the foundation presents college scholarships to Vista High students and later this month, will make a $10,000 donation to the continuation school for new classroom computers.

“Our faith teaches us to have compassion and love for everyone,” said Sumei Chen, a spokesperson for the Tzu Chi Foundation. “We want to offer not only help, but hope.”