Chinese philosopher Confucius famously wrote, “A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives roses. If you are generous you will gain everything.”
It was in that spirit that the Chinese American Club of Laguna Woods Village recently raised more than $20,000 in donations from its membership to help local nonprofit groups aiding those suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a special meeting Tuesday, May 5, at Laguna Woods City Hall, the club presented checks for $10,000 each to Illumination Foundation and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. Claudia Keller, chief mission officer, accepted the check on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank; John Ing, chief financial officer, accepted the check for Illumination Foundation.
“We must stand together to fight this natural disaster. We feel this is our time to show our kindness, generosity and love,” Chinese American Club vice president Irene Cheng said in an email.
The club also donated 200 N95 medical-grade face masks to the county health agency. Sergio Prince, representing 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett’s office, accepted the masks.
Cheng said the club launched its fundraising initiative in response to reports of front-line workers lacking protective gear. The idea to help local nonprofits battling the effects of COVID-19 took root and blossomed from there.
Club member Terry Mao organized a volunteer team to drop donation boxes at club members’ doors, then collect the boxes from those who agreed to donate.
A total of $20,500 was collected from 92 donors in just three days, Cheng said. Included was $1,000 each from her, Mao, Henry Lee, Christina Ning and Jennifer Chen, all Laguna Woods residents.
“It is very hard to find volunteers to collect the donations because this disease is highly contagious,” Cheng said. “Many of the donors were touched by the braveness of the volunteers. They dropped thank you notes or a bag of snacks to show their appreciation.”
The club enlisted the help of Laguna Woods Mayor Noel Hatch to recommend a charitable donee. Hatch suggested two.
Illumination Foundation deals directly with protecting the homeless who are infected or likely to be infected with COVID-19, overseeing facilities that are housing these individuals. Second Harvest Food Bank distributes groceries to those in need in locations throughout Orange County, including a church in Laguna Woods.
Hatch said assisting the club in its search for beneficiaries has been a “choice experience.”
“The members of this club epitomize the quality of the people who live in Laguna Woods Village,” he said. ” I am frequently struck, often awed, by the humanity, the kindness and concern for others found in the neighborhoods of our community — and this occasion is one of those times — in spades.”
Bartlett on Tuesday praised the club, writing: “I highly commend the Chinese American Club of Laguna Woods Village, including their President Henry Lee; Vice President Irene Chen; and Board Member Ed Tao, for their outstanding efforts and generous support during this very difficult time in our history.”