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December 18, 2012 > Tri-City winter charity event

Tri-City winter charity event

By Simon Wong
Photos By Simon Wong

Students, alumni, parents and volunteers distributed dry and canned foods, clothing, toys and small household items to visitors. Union City Police Explorers arrived with a truck of wrapped Christmas gifts. This year, each family also participated in a free raffle to win gift cards for use at retail stores, such as a Safeway, and non-profits. Ten $100 gift cards, two $25 gift cards and 10 $10 cards went to families from Fremont, Newark, Union City and Hayward.

"We are grateful for the generous donations and for the efforts of local businesses which have also collected on our behalf. This event is only possible with everyone's support," explained John Chyan, a volunteer with the Purple Lotus School.

"We use the financial donations to purchase items for distribution at the event, stated David Chen, who serves with the San Bruno based Purple Lotus Temple and whose daughter is a former student at the school in Union City. "This year we approached a lady at Berryessa Market to purchase socks. She expressed surprise at the quantity we wanted and what her best price might be; given that we were buying for the Tri City Winter Charity Event she graciously donated part of the transaction. Coincidentally, she attends the Purple Lotus Temple in San Jose. We gave away almost 600 pairs of socks for adults and children, today."

When clothing and toys are donated, new items are preferred. According to Buddhist philosophy, it is more meritorious and considerate to provide new instead of old.

The organizers are taking steps to better serve the community. Each family was asked to complete a questionnaire and to indicate the number of family members, their ages and other information that will help improve existing services and identify additional services required. Previously, family sizes were based on averages; the survey will give precise statistics.

As always, children and their parents had the opportunity of a photo with Santa. In practice, matching images with families is not always straightforward, especially when claim tickets are lost. This year, images were loaded to Facebook for families to download.

"This year's event was very well organized and beneficial to the community," stated Jaime Jaramillo, Executive Director, Centro de Servicios. "Donations remained at about the same level as last year though more families needed help. There were fewer waiting in line at the start of the event but many more arrived later. We always hope for lower numbers; fewer families at an event like this, the healthier the community. Unfortunately, we still need donations which Centro De Servicios accepts throughout the year, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m."

The Purple Lotus School and Centro de Servicios enjoy a successful partnership. Sharing resources generates a better "return on investment." During the year, toy and food drives by both organizations help the Tri City Winter Charity Event. What remains at the end of the event is donated to Centro de Servicios for distribution to the non profit's own clients. Nothing is wasted.

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 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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