Buddhist organization Tzu Chi continues to provide San Bernardino City Unified School District students and families in need with bags of fresh food and clothing.
More than 300 people visited Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School on Tuesday Feb. 19 to receive donations from the Taiwanese foundation.
Residents who need food and clothing are always welcome at monthly food distribution events, Tzu Chi Spokesperson Andrew Lin said.
“But our organization’s long term goal is to help these families have stable lives,” Lin said.
Tzu Chi has thoroughly analyzed the needs of struggling students and their families by observing economic trends, resident income levels, and poverty statistics. The nonprofit organization has helped address the needs of San Bernardino residents since 1994.
Lin said his organization has helped feed over 16,000 people and 4,000 families in the San Bernardino area in the year or so since they’ve launched the food pantry.
In an area where close to 20 percent of the population lives in poverty, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, there needs to be as much support as necessary to help young students and their families achieve success.
“We’re thinking about working more on case-by-case basis to help people look for jobs,” said Lin. “And we’re going to help all the need. We can’t do it alone.”
Juanita Blakely Elementary School Principal Ramon Velasco said the school has the most foster and homeless children within the district. Tzu Chi’s presence in their community is a “huge help” for struggling families.
“It’s awesome to see families receive items they don’t have,” said Velasco. “We’re very thankful for their support.”
Maria Flores, who has three girls attending Juanita Jones, appreciated the overall support of the community.
“We’re definitely grateful for this,” she said. “For the school to inform us about the services [Tzu Chi] provides shows they want to help us.”
The next food distributions will be taking place on March 18 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Indian Springs High School and on March 19 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School.