On a weekday, in the freezing weather 12 individuals gear up.
They are volunteers here to distribute coal briquettes to low-income, elderly households that use them to heat up their homes.
The volunteers hold two briquettes at a time with each weighing 3.6 kilograms and start moving the coals from the nearest parking lot to each house.
This time, five different homes will get two hundred coal briquettes each taking around two hours to finish the delivery.
Many low-income senior citizens rely on this help.
However, this year due to COVID-19, the number of volunteers and deliveries has been cut significantly compared to last year.

“Stacked here are 200 charcoal briquettes delivered today to one of the households. While the stack seems large, these briquettes won’t even last a month.”

A recipient of the coal says she will have to buy additional briquettes which cost a bit more than 60 U.S. cents apiece, but considering she goes through six to eight a day it’s a huge burden for her.
But she says she’s thankful regardless as everyone is going through tough times.

“I thank them for coming by every year and volunteering. This is how the old ones will stay warm in the winter.”

One of the volunteers says he signed up without thinking much about it, but now realizes how essential this operation is for the elderly.

“They were heavier than I thought, so I’m glad I could help them.”

The organization behind the initiative currently has to rely on volunteers that sign up individually as many of the usual group events have been canceled this year due to COVID-19.

“We care a lot about safety and virus prevention as there are many elders here. So when volunteers come, they can safely spend meaningful time here together.”

While naughty children receive coal for Christmas from Santa and are disappointed, some would welcome the gift of coal this year as their supply may not last until the end of the winter.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.

Reporter : tkim@arirang.com

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