Mosques, schools, scout troops and two churches collected more than $6,000 worth of kitchen supplies for newly arrived refugee families. Organized by Refugee Assistance Programs (a Chapter of World Faith) and ICNA Relief, more than 100 men, women, teens and children came together on May 15 to collect, sort and stack complete kitchen kits to transform bare apartments into cozy homes for refugees arriving in Chicago.
The Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs generously donated storage space at its previous masjid location.
“Forty-two complete kitchen kits are neatly packed and labeled,” said Naazish YarKhan, founder of RAP. “As soon as we learn of a new family arriving, the helpful brothers and sisters from ICNA Relief will deliver the kits to them.”
The highlights of this drive were that the quality of the donated items was excellent allowing people to exemplify the Islamic teachings of giving what you would like to receive. The enthusiastic participation of youth lifting boxes, running errands and helping with registration was commendable. Also, many families and school groups chose to stick around and help even after they had delivered their boxes.
“The kitchen is the most important room in the home,” said Kiran Ansari, RAP Board Member. “As you arrive in a new country with new language and new rules, a hot cup of tea or a pan for warming milk for your child can make all the difference in the world.”
The CPSA School in Lombard donated eight brand new complete kitchen kits, the Islamic Center of Naperville donated six and even groups of friends got together and chipped in for kits. From a potato peeler to a microwave, everyone made a contribution. Many people donated gift cards, checks and cash to help complete the kits. Those that had brought non perishable food staples like rice and sugar were glad to see that it was being delivered the same day to refugee families in the Rogers Park are.
“I have seen firsthand the joy on the faces of the newly arrived refugee families when they get these essentials,” said Aliya Husain, another RAP Board Member. “Such drives help us fulfill the obligation to help others. However, it is a reminder of all the blessings Allah has bestowed upon all of us and how we need to be in constant gratitude. “
“For my 16-year old daughter, Noreen, the RAP-ICNA Relief event was especially meaningful” said Zahrah Zavari of Wilmette. “We don’t have many Muslims where we live and youngsters at my daughter’s school do not always have the best perceptions of what it means to be a Muslim. The kitchen kit event was a great way for me to provide my daughter with a stronger sense of self as a Muslim.”
“For the first time I felt everyone there was there for one reason – to give. To see both the young and old work together like clockwork was beautiful,” agreed Noreen Khan. “Men and boys caring huge boxes many times their size with smiles on their faces to the young ladies and women to sort out, was delightful. Everyone there could be in bed or out with friends but this group of people wanted to help change the life’s of others, someone they have never meet or will ever know. To me this was a very special day, I left feeling inspired, positive and proud of my people and community and feel there is nothing we cannot do if we stand and work together.”