Full sacks of rice, dozens of pasta packs, bottles of olive oils, dried dates and cereal boxes are only a few food items that pile up on the floor of Al-Huda School‘s basement.

The food items were donated by the school’s community members as part of a Ramadan giving ritual called Zakat-ul-Fitr.  The Al-Huda School is a private Muslim school and thus the school’s community members mostly comprise of Muslim parents living in College Park and its surrounding areas. Established in 1995, Al-Huda School now covers Kindergarten through twelve grade.

Being Muslims, community members  have two celebrations in the year, known as Eid in Arabic, and one of these  Eids is celebrated after Ramadan, the month of fasting. Out of a concern to allow everyone to enjoy the celebration, this is where the Zakat-ul-Fitr comes into play. Amadu Kamara, one of the food drive organizers, comments, “The idea of this is  to share the joy of Eid with others who are less fortunate. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

This specific charity must be paid to the poor before the beginning of the Eid-al-Fitr prayer which is expected to be celebrated late this week. “This year we’ll be giving out to some 130 or more families in need in the Washington Metro areas. They live in all over the place – from Sterling Virginia to upper Baltimore City”, said Adil Faisal, another food drive organizer.

Dozens of the school’s community members spent much of last weekend packing the food boxes and driving them to the houses of needy families. “You must have two things – a car in good running condition and a GPS”– reads an announcement asking for volunteers. The list of these needy families is compiled mostly from their neighbors. To keep privacy of the recipients, the volunteers are only given the addresses of the recipients’ residences and asked to drop the food boxes at their door steps. 

Yesterday afternoon, I followed one group tasked to deliver 8 bags of food to a family living in a Laurel apartment.

“#11 has been delivered” – a text was sent to Faisal, once the bags were dropped at the apartment door.

[Also read: Thank you, Meals on Wheels]