FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — As this year's Valentine’s Day coincided with Lunar New Year celebrations, a coalition of community organizers and local businesses in Fountain Valley wanted to spread some love via a drive-through meal delivery for seniors and families in need.

One of the community volunteers, Ted Nguyen, explained that the arrival of the year of the ox (or water buffalo, as he called it) was more than welcome this year.

What You Need To Know

  • Lunar New Year is celebrated particularly in East Asian cultures, influenced by Chinese New Year and the Chinese calendar

  • Organizations and a local restaurant came together to offer a drive-thru meal and supply delivery in Fountain Valley

  • The Lunar New Year celebration coincided with Valentine’s Day and included traditional Asian food items as well as a dragon dance troupe

  • As part of ongoing efforts to support seniors during the pandemic, 500 meals were prepared and delivered safely via the drive-thru event

“It's especially important this year to kick the year of the rat to the curb and usher in hope, prosperity, health, and happiness,” said Nguyen.

Traditional dishes of sticky rice with meat and veggie fillings were part of the celebration, which a bevy of volunteers from organizations like Moving Forward Together, the Orange County United Way, and local businesses like the Recess Room Restaurant handed out to hundreds of cars who stopped by. The day is part of ongoing efforts by organizers to support their communities with meals and aid since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. 

“It's about family," said Nguyen. "It's about honoring our traditions, but then also paying respect to all those that have come before us, and especially welcoming relief with the vaccines, encouraging seniors to get the vaccination, and encouraging people to continue to physically distance.”

Organizers prepared some 500 meals, which people received from the safety of their cars while treated to traditional performances by local groups, including a dragon dance troupe. 

Event organizers have also been working to make seniors feel safe, as a recent rise in pandemic-fueled violence against Asian American seniors has left many worried.

“We want to say to our seniors that if they hear or experience anything themselves, to report,” said Nguyen. “Law enforcement will take it seriously. We want seniors to know that they're not alone.”

Overall, the event is helping to create a sense of normalcy at a time when traveling to visit loved ones during holidays like these is not recommended. One of the day’s visitors, Mary-Ann, explained that just getting out of the house and being around people made her feel better.

"I just really appreciate the help for seniors, and just to be with people when you’re alone in your house most of the time is nice," she said. "This is so special."

Nguyen added that the water buffalo (A.K.A. the ox) is the perfect animal for the new year — a symbol of strength at a time when it is most needed.

“The buffalo represents determination, hard work, and honesty,” said Nguyen. “And that's how we're going to get through this pandemic together. Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy New Year!”