Muslims passed out new winter coats and served hot meals to low-income
families in the Herndon area last night to celebrate Thanksgiving.
At least 100 members of the town's Hispanic community crowded Zuhair's Cafe
on Grant Street, where they received a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal of
beef kebabs and rice.
"It is not the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but hey, what is America
without a little diversity?" said Mukit Hossain, who heads the
Herndon-based Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help
(FAITH), which organized the dinner.
About 20 FAITH volunteers served the dinners on paper plates and soda in
paper cups. The volunteers had made enough food to feed at least 120
persons. After picking up their meals at the counter, the families sat down
at the booths or tables that were set up for the dinner.
Before dinner was served at 7 p.m., the FAITH volunteers began the evening
by giving away a van full of new winter coats to those who came to the event.
"We are glad to get the coats," said Elvis Ayala Sr., whose son Elvis Jr.
also received one. Elvis Jr., 5, put on his baby-blue coat as soon as he
received it, even though it was still warm outside.
Several minutes earlier, the FAITH volunteers had received more coats from
Ray Mhattab, a bus driver for the Fairfax Connector, who stopped by
Zuhair's and made the donation.
"I drive the bus every day and see the need," Mr. Mhattab said. "I'm so
glad this group is doing this. It compelled me to buy up coats, also."
Last night's dinner and coat giveaway were only two of many ways Muslims in
Northern Virginia dedicated their Thanksgiving to charitable outreach
The Islamic faith obligates its followers to give to the poor and the
hungry, so many Muslims participated in charitable events.
"The concept of charity in the West is very different from Islam at a
fundamental level," Mr. Hossain said. "We believe that when one does
charity, it is charity to oneself..."
Over the past week, about 100 volunteers with the All Dulles Area Muslim
Society (ADAMS) took the canned goods every day to the intersection of
Elden Street and Alabama Drive in Herndon, where day laborers congregate.
Others are taking part in an annual coat drive held by Reston Interfaith,
which runs through Feb. 12