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December 31, 2010 > Tri-City winter charity event

Tri-City winter charity event

By Simon Wong
Photo by Simon Wong

The Purple Lotus Buddhist School on Ninth Street, Union City, was the venue on Sunday, December 19, 2010 for the Purple Lotus Temple's annual Tri-City Winter Charity Event.

The economic downturn has hit families hard with resultant year-on-year increases since 2007 in the number served by the Purple Lotus Buddhist School in partnership with Centro de Servicios. Last year saw a 30-40 percent rise to 174 families (1,148 people).

A large turnout was expected and in spite of heavy rain, a total of 281 needy families, large and small, received food, clothing and toys. The school's students, alumni and parents, volunteers from Centro de Servicios, Union City's James Logan High School and Fremont's American High School delivered Christmas cheer, with Master Lianzi representing the Purple Lotus Buddhist Temple, St. Bruno. Jaime and Carmen Jaramillo lent their support, as always.

Visitors collected potatoes, canned food (soups, vegetables, fruit, meat, drinks and broth), rice, pasta, beans, candies, biscuits and cookies. Indoors, booths offered new and used clothing (sorted by age and gender), toys, books, bric-a-brac, CDs and DVDs. Children and parents posed for photos with Santa, enjoyed candies, refreshments and festive music.

This year, organizers encouraged donors to give new clothing and toys. According to Buddhist philosophy, it is more meritorious and considerate to provide new instead of old.

"Approximately 200 items of new clothing, 50 new blankets and 70 pairs of new socks were received. This year, however, saw fewer clothing donations than in 2009 but about the same level of food donations," explained Mei and John Chyan, volunteers with the Purple Lotus Buddhist School.

Union City Police Chief Greg Stewart, a regular supporter of the event, was conspicuous by his absence but Santa Claus - suspiciously similar in build - arrived with a twinkle in his eye to pass out gifts to all the children present, assisted by Union City Police Explorers. On closer inspection there was a passing resemblance between St. Nick and the police chief - same height, same rosy cheeks but a large paunch on Father Christmas. Uncanny.

The Purple Lotus Temple and Centro de Servicios enjoy a successful partnership. The Temple organizes food and clothing drives during the year and shares some of the resources with Centro. What remains at the end of the Tri-City Winter Charity Event is donated to Centro for distribution to the non-profit's own clients. This year, items may also be sent to aid survivors of the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Toy donations, marked for the attention of 'Police Explorers,' can be delivered year-round to Union City Police Department at William M. Cann Memorial Civic Center, 34009 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City. For more information, call (510) 471-1365.

For locations at which to drop off donations for the Purple Lotus Buddhist School's Tri-City Winter Charity Event or to arrange collection of large quantities, call Centro de Servicios (510) 489-4100 [Spanish] or the Purple Lotus Office (510) 489 8868 [English].

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