SHAFAQNA – The Ramadan spirit was in full swing Saturday, June 18, at the Hanini Outreach Center’s annual food drive, where more than $35,000 was raised and a total of 500,000 pounds of food collected to feed needy families, seniors, veterans and refugees in Wayne County.
Each year the Hanini Outreach Center sponsors a food drive during Ramadan to provide non-perishable foods, meats and dairy products to needy families in Dearborn, Detroit, Hamtramck and Coldwater.
More than 150 volunteers congregated at the center’s Maple Street location to package the food, organize them into boxes and deliver packages to families in the area. The Amity Foundation helped with the distribution of the food packages.
Food drive participants ranged in age from elementary school children to the elderly.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds raised this year was spent on food packages that we distributed to nearly 300 needy families,” said Naiel Salameh, president of the Hanini Outreach Center. “Not many non-profits are able to demonstrate dollar for dollar outputs.”
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan (ADC-MI) Director Fatina Abdrabboh participated in this year’s food drive. She brought along her husband and children to help serve the needy as well.
“Look around at who is here today,” Abdrabboh said. “There are people from all backgrounds and age groups working together. I can’t think of anything more inspiring and encouraging.”
As truckloads full of food were packed onto refrigerated cargo vans, volunteers gathered for a moment of reflection for the needy all over the world. Mohammad Khalil, executive board member of the Center, reflected on the strives the organization has made over the years.
“It’s a privilege to donate every year to the needy right here in Dearborn,” Khalil said. “Despite our accomplishments, we are far short of feeding the needy in our community. We started with only 11 boxes just a few years ago, to nearly 300 this year. I’d like to personally thank our community volunteers.”
Sammy Salem, vice president of the organization, noted that it’s remarkable that dozens of community members turned out to participate in the food drive on a hot summer day, while they were observing fast.
“Despite the intense heat and our fasting, it is our honor to bring our children here today to watch and help us package these boxes of feed for the needy and hungry,” Salem said.
Local grocery stores, including Greenland and Al Sayed Meats, also donated items for the food drive.
While a large number of charitable community efforts focus on donating resources to the Middle East, the Hanini Cultural Center noted that residents in the local metro Detroit area shouldn’t be overlooked.
Recent figures by the Department of Health and Human Services suggested that approximately 10 percent of elderly people live below the poverty line, with most facing hunger or the threat of hunger. This number is projected to climb even further as the Baby Boom generation gets older.
The Hanini Cultural Center, founded in 1974 by residents from the town of Beit Hanina in Jerusalem, was initially created to provide a social space for residents of Beit Hanina. It has since developed into a thriving nonprofit focused on poverty relief, educational resources and financial assistance to families in order to combat poverty.