On Sunday, 12th November 2023, a group of Tzu Chi members and volunteers in Edinburgh assembled at a member's home for a light lunch before embarking on the delightful fun task of packing winter gift bags with handwritten Jing Si Aphorism positivity cards for the homeless residents of the nearby Salvation Army hostel.
Just a few words to explain the latter organisation we supported, The Salvation Army was founded in the East End of London in 1865 and in China in 1915. It is one of the largest providers of social services in the world and Tzu Chi Edinburgh branch felt honoured to be able to make their own contribution, in the form of monthly hot meals, to the residents of one of The Salvation Army Scottish hostels here in Edinburgh.
So on Sunday, many hands made light work, under time pressure, of the planned evening program, as stories were told and advice were shared. Both seniors and volunteers busied themselves with filling the sturdy gift bags with some useful and cosy items in preparation for cold winter months such as blanket, socks, and beanie hats for the residents of the hostel.
As we arrived at the hostel, volunteers quickly deployed themselves carrying bags of food ingredients cooking equipment as well as the prepared winter gift bags and work was underway, from preparing the dinning tables and decorating the hall, to chopping and slicing ingredients and making teas and coffees.
Sadly, statistic show that Scotland has the highest rate of substance abuse and the highest number of fatalities from the use of illegal substance in Europe. Therefore we knew that it would be wise to be aware of any issues that may arise at the meal time.
Jing Si aphorism 'Great love ends human suffering, compassion and kindness brings joy to the world', a thoughtful reminder from our Dharma Master Cheng Yen where volunteers sensibly interact with residents in a calm and respectful manner. This practice was visibly reflected during our evening event. Staff at the hostel were delighted to see how well their residents behaved during our function.
A simple professional clinical blood pressure check was, also, provided for anyone who was concerned about their health by one of our Tzu Chi medical-members in a small discrete corner in the dining hall.
Undoubtedly, the gift bags were very welcomed and caused a certain amount of joy for the residents. Among the many items gifted, one particular gift stand-out was the grey winter scarf. It was demonstrated to us how this scarf was manufactured from recycled plastic bottles back in Taiwan. Firstly, plastic water bottles were collected and made into small plastic pellets before turning them into thread which spun into yarn. This special grey scarf serves as a useful reminder of helping to save our environment.