When I entered the conference room on the top floor of UCLA’s Student Activities Center, the hard work had already started. There were two long tables set up across the room flanked by over thirty student volunteers lined up and preparing sandwiches. There was an uplifting and inviting sense of collaboration that these people exuded. The room was filled with laughter and the smell of peanut butter, strawberry jelly, and sliced bread. The first thing that I felt when I saw this beautiful scene was the spirit of the ummah, the community of Muslims bound together by the ties of Islamic values.
The scene I’ve just described is one of the events organized by the Muslim student-run Food Drive Initiative at UCLA. This was their biggest event of this fall. They aimed to feed 500 homeless people in Downtown Los Angeles. I was invited to be a part of this amazing group, so I joined in on their two-day journey to ease some of the burdens of the homeless population in Los Angeles. Here are some photos and a rough timeline of how the two days progressed:
The First Day of Food-Drive (November 2, 2018): Are we ready?
Umar, the leader, is fully motivated. Everybody is ready to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Tables are set up and the materials are distributed among the volunteers.
Transparent plastic gloves are worn, and slices of bread are spread with peanut butter and jelly.
Sandwiches are packaged into Ziplock bags.
The sandwiches are put into brown paper bags alongside apples and bottled water, ready for tomorrow’s distribution.
And, the first day ends.
The Second Day of Food Drive (November 3, 2018): Let’s Go!
Packages are counted.
Then, they are stapled shut.
Dhuhr prayer time!
Finally, we head downtown. Ready to distribute!
If homeless individuals can’t come to pick up a bag, volunteers bring the bags to them.
Every package makes difference here.
Distribution is finished and the volunteers are ready to go home with tired bodies and happy souls.
These volunteers fed over a thousand people in need over the span of two years. Stay tuned for more information on the Food Drive Initiative, like how they started and what else they do in my next piece “Heroes Among Us: Food Drive Initiative (Part 2).” Thank you heroes among us for your great efforts! We appreciate what you do. Jazakallah Khair!