CHICAGO – An American Muslim charity has distributed 50,000 backpacks with school supplies nationally to give parents and children a helping hand at the new school year.
“The outpouring of generosity from the public and organizations like the Islamic Circle of North America Relief (ICNA) Chicago for our immigrant children has been a blessing and a joy,” said Sister Catherine M. Ryan, Maryville Academy’s executive director, Chicago Tribune reported.
“It demonstrates a strongly held belief that all children deserve protection and care,” she added.
Maryville Academy is one of the beneficiaries which received backpacks for children.
Along with Maryville, beneficiaries included DCFS, Catholic Charities, refugee families and even migrant children torn from their parents during the recent border crisis and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
The children are housed at many locations by Des Plaines, IL, based Maryville Academy and Viator House of Hospitality, a safe home for young immigrant men seeking asylum in the US.
The back to school drive took place in 35 States, 120 cities and Puerto Rico, within 30 days, with 220 partners representing varied faith groups, businesses, and civic organizations.
“ICNA Relief provided 50 backpacks with school supplies for the children of Rogers Park and their involvement has sparked many new opportunities for the 24th District and ICNA Relief to work together in bringing programs, information, and events to the Rogers Park Community,” said Sgt Shawn Sisk of the Chicago Police.
“I truly look forward to our future endeavors.”
“It is with heartfelt gratitude that we accept ICNA Relief’s generous donation of 80 backpacks for children in need that are served by Illinois DCFS. A child who goes to school prepared to learn will always have a brighter future! We look forward to our continuing partnership with your community,” said a DCFS representative.
Other beneficiaries included Catholic Charities’ DuPage County Back-to-School Fair and local police events.
ICNA Relief has a Refugee Resource Center and Food Pantry in Rogers Park, Chicago, and its head office and a second food pantry in Glendale Heights.
A national social services organization, based on Islamic principles, its services are available to all those in need regardless of their faith, through 56 chapters nationwide.
“Do you remember the joy of having brand new school supplies? Many of these children don’t,” said Dr. Saima Azfar, Director, ICNA Relief Chicago.
“The sight of hundreds of parents and children, lining up hours before the distribution starts, is heartbreaking and humbling.”
The 220 #OneNationOneCause partners included suburban and area mosques, churches, Scouts troops, businesses, and individual residents and more.
In Illinois, Naperville-based Girls Scouts Troop 51120 alone raised $4500 worth of supplies and 100 backpacks filled with supplies. The thirteen-year-olds were awarded the ICNA Relief Excellence in Community Service award for their efforts.
“This drive, #OneNationOneCause, is an expression of solidarity. We stand together, and are committed to being there for our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Maqsood Ahmed, CEO, ICNA Relief.
“These are Islamic principles and universal human values in action. We are grateful to all our partners for coming together as one.”