By Imam Fateen Saifullah,
Las Vegas–They handed out bags of apples, bagels, granola bars, and raisins, hats, socks, sweatshirts, rain ponchos, and, for the children who came with arms outstretched, toy cars.
This was the third annual Humanitarian Day for the Homeless, an event organized by Islamic Relief and Vegas-area Muslims to feed and clothe homeless people during Ramadan.
At Masjid Saboor, 50 volunteers from local mosques, colleges, and community groups manned tables stacked high with food, clothing, and toys donated by local businesses. Some 500 beneficiaries streamed past, collecting the goods in bags. Volunteers also performed free health screenings, testing for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Las Vegas has a large number of homeless people. The Islamic Society of Nevada as well as Masjid Saboor are involved in distributing packed meals to the homeless and the needy on a weekly basis. During Ramadan, the Islamic society of Nevada provided meals to over 200 people a day.
October 21–Detroit–320 volunteers and most local mosques and Muslim organizations came together this past Ramadan weekend in downtown Detroit to help about 1,300 of Detroitâ€™s 30,000 homeless people with food, clothing, and health care needs.
The abnormally cold October day provided warmth in the form of new clothing, food, hygiene packs provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, toys for the children, and health checkups.
Organization was excellent. There was a coordinating committee brought together almost all of Southeast Michiganâ€™s mosques (among them the Detroit Unity Center, the Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs, IAGD, the Tawheed Center, and the Bloomfield Unity Center), in concert with the Islamic Shura Council of Southeast Michigan, and all of Southeast Michiganâ€™s major community organizations including, to name a few, ACCESS, Life, MAS Youth, DUCâ€™s Huda Clinic, and Islamic Relief. The mosques each donated approximately $1,000 to the day, along with several young and committed volunteers.
Islamic Relief is the main driver of this project, the Humanitarian Day for the Homeless, which this year reached 14 cities across the US, most dramatically in Los Angeles and Detroit. The Humanitarian Day was started in Los Angeles only five years ago, yet it has mushroomed into a national phenomenon. Islamic Relief launched the project in LAâ€™s â€œskid rowâ€ in 2002, and the now yearly event always takes place in Ramadan.
This nation-wide program was expected to directly benefit 20,000 of Americaâ€™s estimated 3,000,000 homeless people (figure given by Islamic Relief).
Zarinah El-Amin was one of the main planners of the event–she explained that the event had benefited 13,000 homeless people, with 320 volunteers from â€œall of the local mosques.â€ She said that the sponsors of the event had been many, including individual donors and Islamic Relief. She said that expenses for the day amounted to about $36,000–$11,000 for food, $13,400 for clothing, and about $2,000 for setup (which included several tents, bus service to bring beneficiaries to downtown Detroit, and a bounce house for children).
She explained that she wanted to give thanks to the entire Muslim community–every mosque in the entire city, and hoped that they would be involved at an even deeper level next year.
Life for Relief and Development, recently in the news, appears to have completely recovered and is continuing its good work of benefiting people–Life sent 6 volunteers to the event and Life employee Farhan Abdul Azeez explained that Life had provided about $10,000 in food.
Dr. Mouhib Ayas, the president of the Board of Directors of the Bloomfield Unity Center and Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, expressed deep satisfaction with the event and its results.
This is another budding Ramadan tradition that all local Muslims can take some pride in. Lamiya Wade, a fellow organizer of the event, said the day was â€œfantastic–the recipients are happy, and the volunteers feel blessed to help someone out in a small way.â€