Tzu Chi members of the Japan chapter began discussing how to help the victims after learning that the Oct. 23 quake had caused casualties and many residents had been evacuated to shelters. They got in touch with the Niigata rescue center on the evening of Oct. 24, knowing that daily necessities were urgently needed.
After consulting with the headquarters of the Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan, the volunteers at the Japan chapter decided they would send relief supplies to Tokamachi City on Oct. 25.
As there was not enough time to procure blankets, the volunteers decided to donate 150 sets of bedding which had been stored for visitors to the Japan chapter. Each set consists of a quilt, a cotton mattress and a pillow.
More than 20 volunteers were mobilized to prepare the bedding materials, while others were dispatched to procure 2,200 bottles of drinking water. Volunteers worked through the night, only finishing the preparation work a little before dawn on Oct. 25.
The truck carrying the relief supplies left Tokyo at noon of Oct. 25. A mini-bus with seven volunteers aboard made a stop in Gumma to pick up bread and sushi prepared by Gumma Tzu Chi members before heading for Tokamachi.
When the Tzu Chi team arrived at the Tokamachi City Council, it was already 9 p.m. The team first visited the municipal sports hall where they unloaded the 150 sets of bedding for the evacuees who were taking shelter there.
Japan chapter CEO Chang Hsiu-min conveyed to the disaster victims the heartfelt concern of Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen.
Later, the team proceeded to a local elementary school to deliver 2,200 bottles of drinking water as well as bread and sushi for 300 persons. Most of the victims staying at the school's gym were senior citizens. The Tzu Chi volunteers comforted them and gave them encouragement and support.
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