TAMPA –As many as 3,000 people strolled through Riverfront Park off North Boulevard Sunday, collecting clothing, shoes, food and getting medical checkups, all for free.
The Islamic Charity Festival, which marked its 15th year, has grown every year, said chairman and event co-founder Husain Nagamia.
Indigent and homeless people stood in what became long lines by noon, waiting to get shoes or second-hand clothes. Bottled water was handed out under the bright Florida sun, and the aroma of barbecue teased everyone downwind of the smoker.
Children slid down an inflatable slide and bounded in a bounce house. Many had signed up for a drawing in which 125 brand new bicycles were to be given away.
Among the important offerings was medical care, Nagamia said. People who otherwise couldnâ€™t afford a visit to the doctor received blood-pressure tests and diabetes screening.
The event is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Muslim Alliance, and everything is being donated by the local Islamic community.
â€œWe wanted to say â€˜thank youâ€™ to the community,â€ Nagamia said. Fliers were posted throughout downtown, and word was passed to local homeless shelters about the event, he said. The result: thousands of people in need getting what they need.