SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Over the past month, thousands of disposable and washable fabric face masks have made their way into the community with thousands more to be distributed this week, all courtesy of the South Plainfield-based Buddha's Light International Association - New Jersey Chapter (BLIA-NJ).

“The BLIA, which is composed of monastics and lay people, enacts Humanistic Buddhism, in which we commit equality, respect to others, and the social progress. The four principles that we follow are giving people hope, giving people joy, giving people convenience, and giving people confidence,” said Paul Tong, president of the New Brunswick Avenue temple. “We strongly believe helping each other is the only way to reach the pure land on Earth."

Since early April, two shipments of disposal masks – one containing 100,000 masks and another containing 500,000 – were delivered to the United States and distributed among North American BLIA chapters. Of the 600,000, a total of 20,000 were allocated to BLIA-NJ for distribution throughout the Garden State, including right here in South Plainfield.

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On the afternoon of April 28, representatives from BLIA-NJ will donate 2,600 masks to the borough to be distributed among the senior center, senior housing facilities and AristaCare at Cedar Oaks nursing home. BLIA-NJ will also donate an additional 800 to be shared among the South Plainfield, Piscataway and Edison post offices. BLIA-NJ will also donate 12,000 masks to area hospitals, with 9,000 divided among Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset Hospital, Monmouth Medical Center, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and 3,000 going to Saint Peter's University Hospital.

Over the past month, BLIA-NJ has also extended its donations to other organizations and individuals throughout South Plainfield and the surrounding community. On April 7, the South Plainfield Police Department and South Plainfield EMS each received a donation of 500 disposable masks and 500 masks were also donated to St. Peter’s. Additionally, this past weekend, over 120 packages – each containing 20 disposable masks and two washable fabric masks – were handed out to BLIA members and residents residing in the vicinity of the center, which is located at the corner of New Brunswick and Foster avenues.

“The complete donation effort was organized by the Buddha Light International Association World Head Quarter in Los Angeles. All the medical masks were donated by Master Hsing Yun Cultural and Educational Foundation…Master Hsing Yun is the founder of the Buddha Light Mountain (Fo Guang Shan),” said Tong, adding that a total of 1,000 fabric masks were also donated to just the New Jersey chapter by Xiao-Ping Wang, Jian Kong, and Ai-Jun Cheng, lay Buddhists in Dong-Guan, China, and friends of Venerable Chueh Chan of NJBCC.

“During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is a very difficult time for everybody, particularly the front line medical workers.  We wanted to offer masks to help medical workers protect themselves and also want to help people in South Plainfield avoid any possible chances of contagion,” said Tong. “Being a Humanistic Buddhist, giving people hope, giving people joy, giving people convenience, and giving people confidence are always our behavior guidelines, given by Master Hsing Yun.”

The New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center, located at 1007 New Brunswick Avenue in South Plainfield, is a Buddhist temple founded in October 1995 through the delegation of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the 48th patriarch of the Linchi (Rinzai) Ch'an School. The objective of the center is to provide a source for people in the community to get to know Buddha's teachings as well as to practice Buddhism in daily life. Regular programs include group practice, Dharma talk, sutra/book study, meditation and vegetarian cooking classes as well as occasional educational and spiritual activities. For additional information, call (908) 822-8620; email newjersey@ibps.org; or visit http://www.ibps.org/newjersey/english/aboutus.asp.

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