Written by Wendy Wang
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska
As the COVID-19 vaccination rate increased in the United States, many states began to ease restrictions affecting schools. In response, Tzu Chi Education Foundation’s character education team contacted Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School in San Bernardino, California, about coming back to the school to provide in-person character education.
Upon receiving their message, Crecia Sims-Robinson, the school principal, responded immediately and set up a conference call to discuss the revived implementation plan for Tzu Chi’s character education program. Although the pandemic response is still a wait-and-see situation, she expressed that the school takes an open mind and hopes to resume regular in-person teaching so that life for students returns to normal as soon as possible.
Students who participated in Tzu Chi’s character education program in the past exhibited increasingly positive development and behavior. Therefore, the school principal welcomed the character education team back to Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School for bi-weekly face-to-face sessions with second and third-grade students.
To help the school protect the children’s health, the character education team mentioned that Tzu Chi could provide pandemic prevention equipment (PPE) and started preparing supplies immediately after the meeting.
Early in the morning on December 2, 2021, Lawrence Luo, Director of the Character Education Development Promotion Office, and Phil Huang, Executive Secretary of Tzu Chi Education Foundation, drove a truck loaded with PPE supplies to deliver 4,000 medical-grade masks and 192 bottles of hand sanitizer to Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School with blessings.
During the hour-long drive, the scenery ranged from bustling to depressing. Arriving on campus, several of the buildings around the school were also in disrepair, which allowed the team to perceive the economic downturn situation for local families due to the pandemic.
Upon arrival at the school, the Tzu Chi Education Foundation’s character education team contacted the administration and followed safety protocols to take temperatures. Everyone exercised caution as new cases of COVID-19 were recently discovered in California. Tzu Chi’s supplies were a timely blessing to help protect the health of the school’s staff and students.
In addition to PPE supplies, the volunteers also prepared Jing Si Aphorism publications and Dharma gifts to accompany Christmas greetings. Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s Jing Si Aphorisms brought touching messages to people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, illuminating how humanity is one family.
The Tzu Chi team also took the opportunity to introduce the Life Science Garden and Environmental Education Center at the Tzu Chi Education Foundation campus in Walnut, inviting faculty and students from Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School to visit.
Looking back, it was another successful venture into the communities Tzu Chi serves. “The donations and educational resources from Tzu Chi are not for commercial purposes,” said Phil Huang, “what Tzu Chi provides is not only physical support; more importantly, Tzu Chi reaches out to the community and helps those in need. Spiritually and physically.”
The team successfully distributed PPE supplies during the school visit and spread positive energy. The school staff is fully aware that Tzu Chi has been working quietly to provide spiritual support and enhance the well-being of all within the community during the pandemic, supplying PPE and more with heartfelt enthusiasm.