On February 12, 2022, 120 students, faculty, priests, religious and staff of the Catholic Univeristy of Korea’s (CUK) Caritas Volunteers Corps shared the warmth by delivering 4000 charcoal briquettes to underprivileged households in SungUi-Dong of Incheon City in South Korea.
The Siberian wind influences the winter in Korea, leading to significantly colder winter temperatures than expected at this latitude. Consequently, Korea’s weather can be freezing for days. In the past, the predominant home-heating source in Korea was charcoal briquettes. However, the briquette-fueled furnaces once critical for winter comfort in most Korean homes in yesteryears are now long gone. A few poverty-stricken areas, such as SungUi- Dong, still use the briquettes to keep their old and dilapidated houses. The residents in SungUi-Dong are known for their persistent poverty.
The Caritas volunteers handed out charcoal briquettes door to door in the narrow uphill streets of SungUi-Dong, forming a delivery human chain. To fend off the spread of COVID-19, only those volunteers who completed the vaccination participated in this service project. Last November, CUK(The Catholic University of Korea) planned to distribute 4,000 briquettes and went on a fundraising campaign for SungUi-Dong in Incheon City -approximately 13 km from the university.
In 2015, the Catholic University of Korea community launched the Caritas Volunteer Corps consisting of students, faculty, and staff volunteers. It now serves and cares for the local communities in the neighboring areas through various community service projects. As a pilot project, the Caritas Volunteer Corps of CUK began volunteering at a nearby nursing home for the first year. Since then, the group has expanded its volunteering projects for the local community during the last seven years. Almost annually, the group has now grown to do the following: lunch delivery for the hungry, academic support for young people, beautifying the local neighborhood, and rice pouch delivery to the poor.