A group of volunteers in Dearborn, Detroit, are making sure no kid is left without an `Eid this year, donating and collecting toy drive to give them the Muslim holiday joy, The Detroit News reported.
“Our volunteers come together for one good cause and to see firsthand that poverty does exist in our community,” said Malak Saab, a member of the Zayn Initiative.
“The Zayn Initiative was started by a group that wanted to do good and saw the opportunity to do that in our Muslim community but in the end, it was just my husband and I and we want to continue to fill in the gaps in the community.”
The Zayn Initiative kicked off five years ago, but this is their second annual donation collection and toy drive distribution for `Eid.
Marking the end of Ramadan fasting, `Eid Al-Fitr is one of the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
About 100 volunteers gathered at the Sarai Palace banquet hall on Sunday in Dearborn, where they created an assembly line to fill boxes of toys for 200 families in Dearborn and Detroit.
This year, the initiative will bring gifts to 800 kids, nearly doubling their total last year, to celebrate `Eid on Tuesday, June 4.
“We only collect monetary donations to make sure that the gifts are gender neutral and the same so we don’t have to choose which family gets a $70 toy and which gets the cheaper toy,” she said.
“All the donations go straight to the cause. There’s zero overhead and we rely on our volunteers to complete this effort.”
Inspire by other charitable organizations like Muslim Foster Care Association gift drives during Ramadan, the initiative also targets orphans and refugees.
“No one wants to give their money to a stranger. We go through various organizations that do feedings, handle violence cases, mosques and we reach out to school districts to find those families in need,” Saab said.
“We rely on those programs like Zaman International to vet the families.”
Volunteering over the past two years, Mariam Charara, who is fasting Ramadan, said she wanted to comply with another pillar of Islam, charity.
“Ramadan isn’t just about fasting from sunrise to sunset. I wanted to give back to the community and help people who don’t have a large spread of food or give gifts during `Eid,” said Charara, 29.
“I wanted to get the full experience of why we fast, and one of those reasons is to feel the impact of people who are less fortunate.”
Charara brought her 4-year-old daughter to packing event and while delivering the gifts to other children.
“The look on their faces is a very humbling experience … There’s a smile from ear to ear on the kid’s faces,” Charara said.
“This is the spirit of our religion, what we believe and what we practice. I hope people who see this who have a skewed view of Islam sees what we’re trying to do for the community and joins us in the cause next year.”
Generosity and charity are generally blessed in Islamic Shari’ah, however, it’s specially blessed during the month of Ramadan. Multiplies rewards, for one thing, Ramadan is a blessed month where the rewards for all of our good deeds are multiplied.
Beyond that, there is the fact that our generosity at this time helps those who are fasting and engaging in extra worship during this special month.
Saab hopes the initiative would grow to serve nearly 1,000 next year.
“I have children myself and we have our `Eid traditions where I take the children out to buy something,” she said.
“I started feeling guilty because prior to that, we were going into homes and people asking us for necessities like toothpaste and a toothbrush. I felt so guilty that these kids were forgotten, and that’s not fair. The wealth is here, the community wants to help …
“We just hope that this `Eid initiative can be a staple of another child’s memory like the Goodfellows gave to me,” she said.