Recently, I received a call from a friend who said that a foundation had been fundraising to buy Lunar New Year meals for low-income elderly people who live alone. He asked if I would be interested in helping deliver meals. I agreed immediately.
On a weekend morning, I drove to the foundation’s headquarters with my family to pick up the meals. Although it was still early, there was already a boisterous crowd on the second floor of the building. They were mostly young people in groups of three to five, with each person assigned a task.
After receiving a list and doing a quick count of the meals, everyone went their separate ways to deliver them. What all the volunteers had in common was that each had a smile on their face. In addition to delivering the meals and supplies, we tried to convey our deepest regards and concern within the short time we had with the people receiving the meals. Most of them were courteous and reserved.
When I asked them if there was anything I could help them with, they would often say they were grateful for the foundation’s assistance and concern, and that they were content with their lifestyle.
Of course, we did receive a few remarks from some people, complaining about being old, how they had no one to rely on, how parts of their bodies were in pain or discomfort, or that they felt they had not much time left.
My wife and I tried our best to console them, and gave them the foundation’s telephone number. I told them that whenever they felt like talking or needed any kind of assistance, they could always call the foundation for help. We would not leave until we saw a smile on their faces, and only then would we say farewell and move on to the next person on the list.
We spent half the day driving around, visiting 11 people living alone. Although we had a tight schedule, which left us a bit exhausted, we felt gratified and warm inside, and reflected on how helping others makes us happy.
The campaign to deliver Lunar New Year meals to low-income seniors living alone was a relay race based on charity and compassion. First, companies and charity groups needed to come together to donate a rich variety of resources and supplies. For those older people that have not been visited by an assigned group, another group would pick up where the last group left off and continue the task, until all the people on the list were visited.
I feel deeply honored and proud to have been invited to participate in an event like this. Saturday marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year holiday. As charity and social welfare groups raise funds, I would call on readers and the public to join in this kind of charity event and pay happiness forward in society.
Tsai Jr-keng is a retired elementary-school principal.
Translated by Rita Wang
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