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On Works Sunday, individuals of many faiths reach out together to support neighbors in need.  Not only is our community better for our efforts, participants are richer for the experience.  In this section, we feature stories that highlight the impact of Works Sunday both on volunteers and those we seek to help.  We hope our experiences will encourage you to participate in one of this year's activities.

Bringing Smiles to Sick Kids
By Jacke Bolware

If you can imagine the heartache of a parent miles from home seeking treatment for their child’s serious illness, you can understand the morale boost of a home-cooked meal and comfortable environment.   Our visit to the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Viginia delivered a taste of home to young patients and their families. [more]

Connecting With Alzheimers Patients
By Rikki Epstein

A very special Works Sunday event takes place each year with the residents of the Rose Garden Activity Center, a Tall Oaks at Reston program for senior citizens with dementia and Alzheimer's. The residents of Tall Oaks enjoy the companionship of visitors and the music, jokes and stories of school-aged volunteers. [more]

The Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation’s AMAZING Blankets

Soft, comfortable Emergency Rescue Blankets – made from recycled plastic bottles? 

Sounds crazy! 

But it’s true!

For years, the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation’s “Bottles into Blankets” program has provided tens of thousands of these blankets to victims of natural and man-made disasters the world over.  For the moment, the program is centered in Asia, where plastic bottles – the kind you find in vending machines and at your local grocery store - are collected, shredded, transformed into cloth-like fibers, and woven into unbelievably soft, warm and comfortable twin-size blankets. 

“It’s absolutely astounding to realize that these blankets were once nothing more than ordinary plastic bottles,” said Christopher Wist of St. Thomas à Becket Catholic Church, Chairman of the Works Sunday 2015 Steering Committee.  “They have the look and feel of real cloth – there’s nothing “artificial” about them!  The Works Sunday Committee is proud and privileged to be able to help spread the word about this wonderful charitable program being provided by our Buddhist brother and sisters.”

But it doesn’t stop with blankets.

Because the fibers that can be woven into blankets can also be transformed into shirts.

The Foundation’s Program makes cool, comfortable polo shirts in a range of colors – blue, white, green, yellow, and more - that correspond to the color of the bottles being recycled and re-purposed.  And there would seem to be no barrier to producing other types of apparel as well.  All in all, this is truly a “win-win” situation – a win for disaster victims receiving the Program’s blankets, and a win for our planet, which need not allocate valuable primary resources to the production of these items derived from recycled materials.

The Tzu-Chi Foundation affiliated with the Buddhist congregation that meets at 1516 Moorings Drive in Reston has long been a valued member of the “Works Sunday” family of faith communities.  For 2015, the Foundation will be donating 10 blankets to the Laurel Learning Center Project, which solicits needed clothing, toy, book and hygiene items for the preschoolers who frequent the Center.   Said Wist, “The Works Sunday Steering Committee is very grateful to the Tzu Chi Foundation for their generous donation to this worthy cause.”

You too can contribute to this Project!  For more information, just click on “Donate to Laurel Learning Center” under the heading “This Year’s Projects” on the left-hand side of the Works Sunday web site’s home page at

But the Foundation’s blanket donation this year is only part of the story! 

As it has in years past, the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation will also be sponsoring and hosting a “Mini-Health Fair” featuring Body Mass Index (“BMI”) measurement, cholesterol screening, vision and hearing screening, healthy lifestyle tips, and alternative Chinese medicine.  This year’s Fair – historically, one of the most popular and well-attended “Works Sunday” projects – takes place from 1 pm to 4 pm on Sunday August 16th at the Foundation’s Moorings Drive location. 

Do yourself and your body a favor and drop by!  You’ll be glad you did!

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