Muslim students at Ohio State prepare meals for homeless


Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch



COLUMBUS (TNS) — It took just two hours for the young volunteers gathered at Ohio State University’s student union on Saturday to meet their goal of assembling 3,000 lunches for the homeless.

As music blared, students working on seven assembly lines inside the Ohio Union made turkey sandwiches and added fruit to lunch bags as others swarmed around them to replenish trays of meat, lettuce and tomatoes. The lunch bags were then boxed and lined up for delivery to homeless shelters and hunger agencies in Columbus, Delaware and Dayton.

Ohio State’s Muslim Student Association organized the event, and Karum Abdulrahman said the effort was part of the nationwide Feed The Hungry campaign by the nonprofit charity Pious Projects of America.

Helping those who are hungry, he said, is very much in line with the fundamental commitment of Islam to help the needy. Each week, the student association provides about 100 meals to local charities, but this was the first time members participated in the national event

“As a devout Muslim, it is our responsibility to help those around us,” said Abdulrahman, a senior neuroscience major.

The 130 volunteers included college students and local high-school and middle-school kids who were upbeat and often competitive, and a bit disappointed when it was announced their goal had been reached and they were done.

“This makes me feel good, like a better person. I’m helping out with others,” said 20-year-old Mariam Husein, an Ohio State University math education major and Columbus native. “My religion, Islam, is always preaching to help others and help people in need.”

Amber Hussain, a senior neuroscience major from Cleveland, also stressed the importance of her faith.

“I think that because of our faith that requires charity, we are able to pull together such a large, diverse crowd and make 3,000 meals. We even have high-schoolers here and they are so encouraged and motivated. It’s a healthy competition here,” Hussain said.

Baseer Faiz, a senior political science major from Columbus, helped coordinate the event, purchasing food and soliciting volunteers in less than three weeks.

“It’s been a good experience,” he said, “and shows that even (if you can’t donate) money to help people suffering, there is a skill set you can provide, something you can do.”

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Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch

Reach Catherine Candisky at ccandisky@dispatch.com or on Twitter @ccandisky.

Reach Catherine Candisky at ccandisky@dispatch.com or on Twitter @ccandisky.