While you wouldn’t expect a Muslim to go anywhere near food and drinks during the month of Ramadan, this group of 42 volunteers had the opposite idea, thinking there was no better way to engage the month than in the presence of food.
…Or perhaps, more accurately, in the act of serving it. On June 10th, led for the fourth year in a row by Amirah Zubair, this team of Muslim millennials gathered at ISNA Canada to pack about 540 lunch bags with a sandwich, juice box and granola bar. They were distributed to 6 homeless shelters across Brampton, Mississauga and Oakville. The initiative was funded entirely by fundraising and due to the overwhelming response of donations, they actually ended up making almost double the amount of sandwich bags than was originally planned!
The shelters served a variety of audiences – families (Peel Family Shelter), males over 16 (The Lighthouse, Cawthra Road Shelter, Wilkinson Road Shelter), teenagers (Brampton Queen Street Youth Shelter) and more (Knights Table).
While the majority of shelters took the sandwich bags and distributed them to their residents privately, Knights Table in Brampton actually allowed a small group from the volunteers to go inside their facility to hand them out. This shelter regularly takes on volunteers to help with management; to get involved, see opportunities to help out on their website. http://knightstable.org/volunteers/opportunities/
In case anyone was wondering, alhamdulillah the sandwiches escaped the prep station drool-free. The hungry volunteers kept quality high and intake low, topping each paper bag with the words, “A Gift From Muslims”.
There’s no shortage of people in need in our communities, but there’s also no shortage of ways to help them out. If you are financially able, food banks require more donations around summer time because the ones made during Christmas have run out. Some of their most needed items are: baby formula, powdered canned milk, rice, canned fruits/veggies, and canned meat/fish. If you’re unable to give financial sadaqah, please consider giving the sadaqah of time. Depending on how much time you have, you could volunteer with soup kitchens regularly or help with Sandwich Runs like Amirah’s occasionally.
Finally, if you’re not sure what you can offer, call shelters and food banks to ask what they need most. A couple years back, I hosted a shelter run, and one of the shelters told us that items for their residents who find housing would be very helpful – bedding, utensils, things of that sort. Depending on what they need, you could host a donation drive (ex. food, clothing, bedding), make a gofundme page, or even run a Sandwich Run of your own.
May Allah SWT give us all the capacity to serve our communities, and may we take on every opportunity we are able to ease the burdens of the children of Adam (AS), ameen.