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Ending Ramadan, Ending Hunger

Members of Herndon's Muslim community celebrated the end of Ramadan at the ADAMS Center Mosque by distributing food certificates to families in need.

Through the Herndon Without Hunger initiative that began at the start of Ramadan in October, more than 1,000-pounds of canned food have been given to Herndon residents in need.

Approximately $20,000 worth of Shopper's food gift certificates — $5 and $8 each — have also been distributed on a weekly basis, said Tanveer Mirza, Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help founding member.

FAITH is a Herndon-based Muslim charity that helps families and residents in need as well as operates a thrift store in downtown Herndon.

As a special treat last Thursday to celebrate the end of Ramadan, FAITH members purchased gift certificates from McDonald's for 400 children to be distributed with the food vouchers.

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 an active Herndon volunteer.

When the program began in October, FAITH members said the hope was that $25,000 worth of certificates would be given to members of Herndon's community in need. Money to purchase the certificates came from the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund and the International Institute of Islamic Thought, two Muslim-run organizations.

At its creation, FAITH members hoped other area churches would join in the effort to continue the project after the holy month of Ramadan ended. During the month of distributions the Fairfax County interfaith liaison was in touch with the FAITH members, said Mirza. Discussions are being held to determine ways to keep the program operational, she said.

One suggestion was to incorporate other major grocery stores or restaurants in the area willing to donate food or coupons to ensure residents do not go hungry, said Nusaybah Ritchie, program coordinator.

Although Ramadan ended Nov. 3, the Herndon Without Hunger campaign is scheduled to continue with additional help in the near future.