In an effort to connect with people of other faiths, the Islamic Society of Central Florida provides a food pantry to help people during their time of need.
The pantry is one of the many social services offered by the Muslim Social Services Center that offers help to more than 200 families every week.
Every Tuesday morning, people gather outside the pantry waiting for the gatekeeper to let them in so they can walk inside and fill their empty bags and carts.
“I feel their love,” Xiomara Almanzar, the gatekeeper, told Spectrum News 13.
Almanzar has been a volunteer at the food pantry since July after losing her husband, who encouraged her to give back for years.
“When I retired, I told God that I would like to serve people in any way,” she said.
Families come in by the dozens, filling bags with proteins and fresh produce from the Islamic Society pantry.
“We don’t look at it as a handout. We look at it as a hand up,” said Diana Serrano, who oversees the food pantry.
Breaking Down Stereotypes
Bassem Chaaban, the pantry’s director of outreach and operation, said the effort aims to reshape the image of the Muslim community and connect with people of other faiths.
“A lot of people in America don’t know much about the Muslim community, and that is another part of our work: to connect with people of other faiths, or no faith, who need our services, including the Muslim community that we service on a regular basis,” he said.
The Islamic Society also provides clothing and job assistance as part of their program that aims to break down stereotypes about Muslim community
Why Do Muslims Give Charity?
According to Islamic teachings, charity brings barakah to our wealth and sadaqah can save our souls from punishment in the Hereafter.
There are amazing benefits of charity in this life and the next. Allah has promised those who give for His sake with multiple rewards :
Verily those who give sadaqah, men and women, and lend Allah a goodly loan, it shall be increased manifold, and theirs shall be an honorable good reward (Paradise). (Quran 57:18)