Throughout the week, Islamic Center members filled a U-Haul truck with gently used donations for Syrian refugees. This was a collection leading up to an interfaith service day on April 8 called, “Refugee Humanitarian Day,” co-sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.CARE, One Global Family and the Islamic Center. Approximately 350 people, including about 70 from the Islamic Center community, came out to volunteer for a day of activities to support Syrian refugees.
The day began with an hour-long interfaith program in the chapel, where Dr. Saleh Kholaki spoke on behalf of the Islamic Center. As people arrived, they hauled large trash bags full of gently used clothing, blankets, toys, and school supplies into the gymnasium where a large makeshift sorting station had been set-up. Volunteers sorted through donations – checking for quality and folding items nicely in preparation for loading into the truck. By the end of the day, two 15′ trucks were filled to maximum capacity with donations that will be packed into a shipping container and sent overseas to refugees in need.
“With everything that is going on right now, interfaith work is more important than ever,” said Ambereen, a volunteer from the Islamic Center. ” And I enjoy that we can get to know one another while we work to help Syrian refugees.”
While one side of the gym was sorting donations, the other half was filled with tables of fabric, pins, and sewing machines. Volunteers created hundreds of reusable sanitary pads to be distributed through an organization called “Days for Girls.” Access to clean feminine hygiene products can greatly impact a young woman’s quality of life, especially her likelihood of completing basic education. After a long day, volunteers lined up for a potluck buffet before congregating in the courtyard. Youth group members lined the perimeter with tables full of baked goods, raising funds for a mission trip later in the year and children waited their turn for a chance to break open the piñata full of treats.
While reflecting on the diverse gathering unfolding in the courtyard, a Mormon attendee shared, “I now realize how much we have in common. I never thought I might relate more to a Muslim than the guy next door.”