Altaf Ali had a vision that one day he would organize the Muslim community to join in an end-of-summer tradition: distributing school supplies to needy children.

“I was a student once and noticed a lot of students did not have supplies, and I said one day I’d have to have the Muslim community help out in this,” said Ali. “It is our moral obligation — and not only as Muslims but as Americans — to give.”

That day came Aug. 11, when Ali and the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR-SFL) got together with several Islamic centers to distribute school bags filled with supplies to about 325 children.

Another 125 or so children got bags and supplies the next day when the distribution continued at Masjid Miami Gardens, 4305 NW 183rd St., one of the major mosques in the area.

“I came just to help out,” said Afroza Kashar, 21, of Miramar. “I think it’s a good cause. I respect that CAIR is taking money from people who have money and giving it to people who don’t.”

William Clear, 12, of Opa-locka, was among those who got school supplies.

“Now I don’t have to wait in back-to-school lines. It was just nice to get a book bag for free,” said William, who came out on Aug. 12.

It was the third annual Muslims Care community outreach for the Pembroke Pines-based CAIR-SFL, a branch of a national organization that promotes Muslim rights and outreach. But it was the first that targeted needy school children; for the previous two, the group handed out food and clothing to the homeless.

“I was shocked at the amount of people who came,” said Ali, who plans to add the school supplies giveaway to his Muslims Care project.


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