Merced County flood victims receive gift cards from international organization

Vince Ybarra Image
Sunday, February 12, 2023
Flood victims receive Visa gift cards from international organization
Tzu Chi Foundation was at the Merced County Fairgrounds offering visa giftcards to people whose home was destroyed in the flood last month.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tzu Chi Foundation was at the Merced County Fairgrounds offering Visa gift cards to people whose home was destroyed in the flood last month.

"Everything helps. Every organization, every person. I told the woman that many hands make light work," said Planada resident, Julie Hoglan.

She said she has lived in Planada for the last few years and was affected by the flood that hit the small community in early January.

Hoglan said she drove to the Merced County Fairgrounds on Saturday where she received a $500 gift card, along with other items like a warm blanket.

Tzu Chi USA is the organization that gave her the financial help. It's an international foundation that is helping people affected by the flood in Merced County.

She said FEMA put her in contact with the foundation. Holgan said it's special to see Tzu Chi lending a helping hand during such a difficult time.

"Really thankful that these organizations exist for people to help us get through these hard times," said Hoglan.

Minjhing Hsieh is an executive of the Tzu Chi Foundation. He said it was the second day the foundation has helped people who need it most.

Hsieh said there was 45 volunteers helping and the foundation is expected help around 300 families by the end of Saturday.

"Tzu Chi is able to offer $300,000 of financial assistance directly to the people here," said Hsieh.

He said the most a family could receive was $1,000. The need is determined with the help of FEMA.

Hsieh said the foundation name TZU CHI means Compassion Relief.

A definition Hsieh says perfectly sums up the foundations mission.

Offering compassion and relief to those who are in distress.

"We really want to help, so it's a lot of internal work to make it happen," said Hsieh.

Merced City Mayor Matthew Serratto was at the fairgrounds on Saturday, taken back by the help Tzu Chi is offering flood victims.

"They're not just providing monetary relief but their also providing compassion, providing love, that's a big part of their mission," said Mayor Serratto.

He said this type of assistance is a big help as the city moves forward.

Serratto said the destruction from the flood is estimated in the millions.

"We had a big meeting this morning and our city manager said she thinks it's close to $70 million," said Serratto.

He said his office is doing what they can to ensure people don't continue to go without.

Going back to Hsieh, he said the Tzu Chi Foundation is expecting to help 50 more families that couldn't make it to the fairgrounds. For more information on the foundation, click here.

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