December 31, 2008 > Christmas Cheer
By Simon Wong
The Purple Lotus Temple and Centro de Servicios in Union City distributed food, clothing, shoes, toys, books and small household goods to 136 families on Sunday, December 21. The Temple accepts donations throughout the year for the annual Tri-Cities Winter Charity Event and holds quarterly supplementary drives - with a big push -as the Holiday Season approaches. Retailers, such as Albertsons, Luckys and Smart & Final, generously provide discounts. Cash donations used to buy food are, when possible, shared with Centro de Servicios.
Different food stalls filled with potatoes, beans, canned foods and pasta were arranged beneath the Temple's cloisters. Clothing, shoes, toys, books and household goods were located indoors. Students, staff and volunteers from the Purple Lotus Buddhist School and from Centro de Servicios manned the stalls and served visitors.
Union City's Mayor Mark Green attended the event, met participants and thanked organisers, Mei and John Chyan and Jaime Jamarillo. Police Chief Greg Stewart volunteered his services for the afternoon at a clothing stall.
Unlike many other food banks, the Temple has seen donations increase this year despite the economic downturn though the number of clients has also grown.
"We have received more donations because there is greater awareness of this event. However, not only are there more visitors, they arrived sooner. A queue began to form at 1.30 p.m. This is something that we have not seen in previous years," said Alice Chyan, a volunteer.
"We are seeing more people at Centro de Servicios. Some have lost their jobs or homes. These new clients have greater needs," added Jaime Jamarillo, Executive Director.
Shortly after 4 p.m., organizers estimated that approximately 680 people, both adults and children, had visited the event.
Assemblyman Alberto Torrico honored Centro de Servicios on December 11 with the Community Partner Award for the 20th Assembly District.
For locations at which to drop off donations or to arrange collection of large quantities, call Centro de Servicios (510 489 4100) [Spanish] or the Purple Lotus Office (510 489 8868) [English].