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.