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UPDATE: Buddhist Charitable Organization Returns To Central Regional Saturday For Storm Victims

Free debit cards, blankets, personal items available only to residents of Ocean Gate, Seaside Park And Seaside Heights who had flood damage

The kindness of members of the nonprofit Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation moved many Bayville storm victims to tears almost two weeks ago.

Each resident who passed a police checkpoint and provided proof they lived in storm-shattered sections of Berkeley Township received up to $600 in debit gift cards, a fleece blanket, toiletries, toothbrushes, smiles, hugs and words of encouragement.

The Tzu Chi Foundation will return to Bayville at the Central Regional Middle School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. This time the recipients of their generosity will be storm victims from Ocean Gate, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, Central Regional Schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said.

Seaside Park residents must pick up a pass at the Seaside Park Police Department, 6th and Central avenues, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday. Residents must be full-time Seaside Park residents and provide a photo I.D. Only one pass will be issued per household, according to the Seaside Park website.

Seaside Heights residents must obtain a pass at the Seaside Heights municipal building, 901 Boulevard, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday. To obtain your pass you must bring a photo ID showing that you are a Seaside Heights resident.

Ocean Gate residents can obtain a pass at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at the municipal building from Mayor Paul J. Kennedy. Residents who qualify will be given a sealed pass with borough seal. No photo copies are accepted.

"Residents must keep in mind that this is for displaced families because of flooding from the storm," Kennedy said. "Loss of power, trees down in yard, etc. does not count. Also, if they received any money from FEMA or insurance for living expenses, they are not entitled to this program.

Toms River residents not included in Saturday's event

While it was orginally reported that displaced Toms River residents could participate in Saturday's event, that is incorrect, said Bob DiBiase, Toms River resource officer for the Department of Emergency Management.

Tzu Chi came to the Pine Belt Arena last weekend and distributed gift cards in the amount of $360,000 and personal items to affected Toms River residents, DiBiase said.

The event was posted on the township's web site and first responders distributed fliers to residents in affected areas, he said.

"We had a very short window," DiBiase said.

Tzu Chi literally means "compassionate relief."

Steven Huang, Tzu Chi's chief of operations, flew in from Taiwan to help coordinate efforts across New Jersey at the event nearly two weeks ago.

"God bless America," he said. "God bless all of you."

Tzu Chi's United States headquarters is in San Dimas, California and oversees more than 80 offices around the country. Volunteers pay for their own gas and hotel rooms when they respond to disasters, said Kevin Hsing Tao-Dai.

"Most of the volunteers here are from New Jersey," he said. "We all have jobs. If we do travel for events like this, we pay our own way."

The volunteers spanned out across different areas of the Central Regional gym, directing residents to verification stations. They guided residents to where they had to go. Many bowed before the people they came to help.

The volunteers had only one request.

They asked residents to take the donation banks included in their distribution bags, and add a little change to them every day. When the banks are filled, the volunteers asked that they donate to the charity of their choice.

"When you are back on your feet again, donate a little every day," one volunteer told the residents. "Pass it on."

Residents of the three towns must provide proof of residency at Saturday's event, before they will be eligible to receive the donations.

Jay December 01, 2012 at 01:51 PM
If you got any money or are getting any money from flood insurance or FEMA don't bother. Mayor Paul Kennedy if Ocean Gate just informed over 30 residents that any money coming in means you will not qualify. Awesome reporting on this, not blaming patch, but towns new this information. Why weren't we informed it was if you received anything. The one real thing people Ocean Gate was included in...and we are told we were supposed to: A. Call ahead. B. Be irresponsible and not carry flood insurance. So much for money for living expenses...
TerriLynn December 01, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I live in Bayville, Berkeley Island, and wasn't told about the first time they were there giving out anything at all. So not ALL residents were informed and received anything from them. We have two police checkpoints and are "living in a storm shattered" part of Berkeley. Maybe not as shattered as others, but we lost our first floor of our house, living in our bedroom upstairs, don't have a furnace, didn't have a hot water heater until this past Monday when I borrowed money from a family member to have it installed so we could take showers and wash dishes in our house, don't have a clothes washer or dryer. Like I said, we lost our first floor of our house. Also, haven't received one cent from FEMA, our insurance company or anyone. Didn't hear anything about the first event. However, I am happy that most people that needed these things got them, because they do deserve this and much more.
jane December 02, 2012 at 07:38 AM
I wasn't told either and could really use the help since my child goes to Central High School and was displaced and homeless now and it is a real shame that some of us were not informed about this. If your not in the loop, it seems that no information gets to us. Can we still get help. We will call the organization and ask because we have proof of living in Seaside.
Sharon December 03, 2012 at 02:00 PM
We have a house in Seaside Park and saw a posting that explained what the Tzu Chi Foundation was doing to help those devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Although I did not qualify to receive their generous donation, I thank the organization for helping out my fellow neighbors that could use the help. Thank you Seaside Park for posting this info on the town website...others should follow suit.
Deb Thompson December 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
The Tzu Chi Foundation was an awesome experience!! Hundereds of volunteers, all very polite and helpful,Things moved along rapidly!! Was a very emotional hour and a half. Many, including me, left in tears at the kindness we were shown. God Bless Them!!

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