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At the bottom of one of his pamphlets, Henry Ford once inscribed in tiny lettering “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” There’s some notable truth to these words, particularly in the context of our growing Muslim communities.
Blankets and Food
On a frigid Sunday morning nearly a week ago, a long line of vans pulled into a worn parking lot at the corner of E. Lowry Place in downtown Atlanta. A group of teenage boys stumbled out of one of them, hands scrunched in their pockets and breathing out cold puffs of air. A woman lifted up a trunk packed tightly with roll after roll of wrapped blankets. More doors were being opened and volunteers were scurrying around, swooping in to carry trays of steaming rice and chicken, lifting coolers, setting up tables and stacking water bottles. By now, a straggling line had already started forming next to the tables- a woman with two laughing kids, a guy clutching a red Falcon’s hat, and another man with long dreads and dangling necklaces.
It was cold, mind you. And it was a Sunday morning. Most people around this time are still snuggled under their covers or sitting around their table eating a hearty family breakfast. And yet, there was an entire troop of volunteers who had gathered here this morning. They stood there behind the tables- gloves stretched over their fingers, ladles in hand, passing boxed food down the assembly line like a well-oiled human machine. Right at the end of the food operation, another group was handing out the mountainous pile of newly-purchased blankets.
Nearly 150 homeless and displaced individuals passed through the line that Sunday morning, and more than 120 blankets were handed out. And all that quietly happened on a small plot of land tucked away in the streets of Atlanta- in a mere two hours.
Pockets of Collaboration
Operations like these aren’t easy. But they’re desperately needed. They’re needed not only to foremost serve the areas we all live in, but to internally bridge the divides in our own community. That Sunday morning was evidence of true teamwork. The Madina Institute community spent two weeks collecting the 120 blankets during its Winter Blanket Drive, the GIC outreach team and its Boy’s Youth Group took charge of making and bringing the trays of food that fed nearly 15o people, and ICNA Relief GA brought their experience and helped facilitate the on-site distribution process.
These pockets of collaboration between non-profit organizations, masajid, professionals, and youth groups are crucial in strengthening the ties within our Muslim community and avoiding fragmentation.
We may not all align according to our cultures, or schools of thought, or leadership, but service is powerful in that it has the ability to see through these divides. It’s a unifying force.
If we want to be the strong voices, the influencers, and the active contributors that this city requires of its Muslims, then these tiny pockets of collaboration must grow. Egos must be shrugged aside, connections must be sought, and teamwork emphasized.
Ford said it himself- few things in this world can be achieved through isolated effort. It’s the working together part that reaps the greatest strength.
We Need You
Service starts with you. Interested in contributing/volunteering?
ICNA Relief GA and Giving Back to Humanity coordinate programs every Sunday. To get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Gwinnett Islamic Circle (GIC) volunteers supply hot food for the homeless/displaced on the first Sunday of every other month. To get involved, contact email@example.com
Madina Institute just had a Winter Blanket Drive, but for more information on future community outreach projects, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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