On July 18th, in the heatwave of the shining sun, Boston Tzu Chi volunteers came to the CMAA in Lowell, MA carrying the love and care from Master Cheng Yen and other masters. Working together, Boston Tzu Chi volunteers and Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) volunteers adopted the "Drive-Through" method and distributed 300 packages with instant rice, noodles, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Volunteers' loving greetings were as warm as the 90-degree temperature of the day.
The friendship between Tzu Chi Boston and CMAA dated back to four years ago through the distribution of winter clothes after a fire accident. Today, the two groups of volunteers reunited during the pandemic to continue their shared mission of selfless love for communities. Upon arrival at the CMAA building, Tzu Chi volunteers were greeted by the group of energetic young volunteers from Cambodia who were eager to contribute. Using their Cambodian and English bilingual language skills to communicate with local families, these young volunteers played a tremendous role in the distribution.
Tzu Chi volunteers also took advantage of this food distribution opportunity to promote the concept of vegetarianism. They explained to CAMM volunteers that being vegetarian is to care for lives and the earth. CAMM volunteers translated and communicated this message in Cambodian to local families, which was very well received. Many families agreed to support and join Tzu Chi's "Very Veggie Movement" campaign that promotes one vegetarian meal a day.
Some Cambodian Buddhist elders were excited to learn that Tzu Chi is a Buddhist organization, and they happily committed themselves to eating three vegetarian meals every day. These elderly closed their palms to express gratitude to the volunteers, expressing their great pleasure to meet people who shared their beliefs.
By the end of the distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers were surprised and moved that families who came to the event had together committed to eating a total of 10,560 vegetarian meals.
Tzu Chi volunteers were also deeply moved by the young, passionate CAMM volunteers, who were eager to serve and give back to their community and helped drive the success of the food distribution event. Their patience and sincerity have touched every Tzu Chi volunteer's heart. Volunteers from both organizations made a wish to reunite soon after the pandemic. A Tzu Chi volunteer shared that one CAMM volunteer went to take a picture with Master Cheng Yen's photo, wearing a big, familiar smile. Isn't this the best portrayal of Master Cheng Yen's words that we should grasp every opportunity to plant a good seed.
After the food distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers prayed to send kind thoughts and blessings to every corner of the world. The pandemic has allowed love to narrow the distance between people's hearts. After a long day of collaboration, companionship, and hard work under the sun, Tzu Chi volunteers ended the event with a group picture. Everyone was laughing happily and making a heart with their hands. Giving has brought the most intense joy to everyone.