KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – A Muslim nonprofit has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for families affected by the shutdown, Knox News reported.
Tarek El-Messidi, the founder of Celebrate Mercy, said he was inspired to start the campaign after “watching the news and seeing so many sad stories of federal workers and federal contractors who were really distressed about not getting paid.”
“Just the sheer number of people who are not getting paid really made me think that the Muslim community should be doing its part,” El-Messidi said.
Founded by Knoxville native and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville graduate El-Messidi, CelebrateMercy is a nonprofit that teaches about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through campaigns, social media, webinars, and conferences.
Along with the nonprofit charity Penny Appeal USA, they launched the crowdfunding campaign for federal workers who have not been paid during the shutdown, called “Muslims Unite to Provide Shutdown Relief.”
Under the American Constitution, Congress is supposed to periodically pass bills that approve spending for the federal government.
In practice, those spending bills can last a few weeks or months or a whole year; they can fund the full government or just parts of it.
Whenever the current spending bill expires, lawmakers must pass a new one to keep the government running. If they don’t, the federal government starts to shut down sometimes partially, like the case since December 21, 2018.
Kicked off on Sunday, the original goal for the campaign was to raise $20,000. Meeting the first goal, it was then increased to $30,000.
The money raised will fund $500 grants for government employees who have not been paid during the shutdown.
“Although this is a Muslim-led campaign, we encourage friends of all faiths to contribute,” El-Messidi said.
“We’re all hoping the shutdown ends as soon as possible so people can be relieved from this stress,” he added.
The Muslim campaign is not the first to assist government employees affected by the shutdown.
In Wisconsin, a local Muslim community has raised $50,000 in loans to affected federal workers.
During the weekend, Muslims in Kentucky and South Carolina provided free meals to airport employees who have been going without payment since a month ago.