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A generous gift in flood’s wake

Ting-Yuan Liu, a volunteer with the Tzu Chi Foundation, visits with a Valley resident at Snoqualmie Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 17. The Buddhist philanthropic and spiritual group sent more than 30 volunteers to help Snoqualmie residents during the January flood. Tzu Chi gave out $36,000 in debit cards following the disaster. - Courtesy photo
Ting-Yuan Liu, a volunteer with the Tzu Chi Foundation, visits with a Valley resident at Snoqualmie Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 17. The Buddhist philanthropic and spiritual group sent more than 30 volunteers to help Snoqualmie residents during the January flood. Tzu Chi gave out $36,000 in debit cards following the disaster.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Clad in white and blue uniforms signifying clouds and sky, 34 volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international Buddhist philanthropic group, were visible on the streets of Snoqualmie in the days following the January flood, spreading compassion.

While no Tzu Chi members live in the Valley, group members had seen images of the flood’s power and devastation in the news, and decided they wanted to help. The group surveyed damage in the city, then gave out $300 Home Depot gift cards to 120 Snoqualmie families.

“Alleviating human suffering is the major principal of all the activities we do,” said David Kim, disaster relief coordinator for Seattle-based Tzu Chi.

Tzu Chi was founded in 1966 in Taiwan by a female Buddhist nun, Dharma Master Cheng Yen. A volunteer-based spiritual and welfare organization, Tzu Chi volunteers give material aid while working to inspire love and humanity. The Seattle organization serves Washington. Most members are of Taiwanese descent.

The group has worked in Africa and Asia, and has also responded to flooding in Lewis County, Wash.

“We knew this flood was major,” Kim said. The group chose to go to Snoqualmie because of the heavy damage there, and also because it was nearby.

The volunteers visited houses and trailer homes damaged by the flood.

“It was devastating,” Kim said. “We knew they needed help. That’s why we acted quickly.”

Tzu Chi volunteers assessed the flood’s impact and surveyed residents on Jan. 9, and 10, and 11. On Saturday, Jan. 17, the group came back to give gift cards to residents at Snoqualmie Middle School. Cards were given to residents with moderate to severe flood damage to their homes, large families, and families with incomes below $65,000 a year.

The group is continuing to follow up with families.

Learn more about Tzu Chi at www.tzuchi.org.

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