PANAMA CITY — Since Monday, the children of Bay County Islamic Society (BCIS) in Florida, the US have been participating in preparing Thanksgiving meals to hand out to those in need, News Herald reported on November 21.
“Handing out these Thanksgiving meals to poor people felt especially poignant to me in the wake of Hurricane Michael,” expressed Arin Ahmad, 15, one of the participating middle and high school students.
This annual tradition of BCIS is accomplished in partnership with other local organizations to distribute the food.
Muslim youth prepare the meals every year. The children said they were happy to help the less fortunate, particularly after the hurricane.
“We’re just gathering a bunch of food to help some families in need that don’t have anything for Thanksgiving,” said Ahmad.
“We’re just trying to help them so they can stay together as a family and not have to worry about food on their plate.”
“It feels good to give back. We can give to other people,” said Raneen Ahmad, 12. The food, which included bread and canned goods, was collected by the community. In fact, BCIS mosque itself sustained major damage from Hurricane Michael.
BCIS youth director Basheer Abdeen said the children came together to make and pack more than 300 meals for people who otherwise wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving meal.
“Our youth has learned a lot of lessons from Hurricane Michael. Today, as well, they will have an opportunity to learn about giving back, working together, helping others, overcoming obstacles,” Abdeen said.
“We found ourselves in the service of others. It’s important to teach the youth these important lessons about giving back to the community.”
Another student, Jana Hudaihed, 13, said she wanted to help out. “A lot of people are going through hard times. I just want people to know you’re there for them and they’re not alone.”
“Anyone that needs anything, they can always come and ask. We’re more than happy to help them,” she continued.
According to Pew Forum’s 2015 ‘Religious Landscape Study’, Muslim represented less than 1% of Florida’s total population which numbered about 20 million people.
Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the US, the most populous state in the country’s southeast, and the 2nd most populous state in the south behind Texas.