Since its kick-off Oct. 6, volunteers working with the Herndon Without Hunger campaign have handed out approximately 1,000 pounds of food to Herndon residents in need.
Initiated by the Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, or FAITH, a Herndon-based Muslim charity, the initiative was created to run during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Lasting for a month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family during Ramadan. It is a time of worship and contemplation, as well as a time to strengthen family and community ties.
During Ramadan, Muslims are also encouraged to participate in community service above regular participation to help those in need, said Mukit Hossain, FAITH member and active Herndon volunteer.
Residents participating in the Herndon Without Hunger initiative have handed out $20,000 worth of Shopper's food certificates so far, said Tanveer Mirza, FAITH founding member.
Of that, $970 worth of certificates were given to children in need participating in the Vecinos Unidos/Neighbors United Safe Haven program.
By the end of the program, which is scheduled for Nov. 3 — the last day of Ramadan — the hope is that $25,000 worth of certificates would be given to members of the community in need. Another $970 will be given to the Safe Haven children this week, totaling $1,940 overall. Additionally, there is a surprise planned for 400 children on the program's last day, said Mirza.
Funding to purchase the almost $30,000 worth of certificates and food came from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund, two Muslim-run organizations.
The idea of the program was to work with area churches and social service organizations familiar with families and residents in need to identify possible recipients of the certificates. Volunteers also set out to give more than 100 people a day, including children, food certificates.
"Altogether, with the certificates and the food, we might have easily provided about 3000 meals in Ramadan," said Mirza. "We are confident that we have easily reached our goal of 100 people a day, [during] Ramadan in the town of Herndon."
In the last month volunteers have handed out certificates and food seven days a week at various locations including the Herndon Fortnightly Library, the Neighborhood Resource Center, ADAMS Center Mosque and the FAITH Thrift Store.
Starting as a pilot program, the long-term goal of FAITH representatives is to operate the Herndon Without Hunger initiative year round through community and faith-based donations. Residents or organizations interested in learning more may contact program coordinator, Nusaybah Ritchie at 571-345-4241.