CAIRO - In a gesture to their wider community, a leading Muslim charity has offered food, medical checks and clothing to hundreds of homeless and disabled Americans in Metro Atlanta area in the southeastern state of Georgia.
Every dime, every penny, every sock, every piece of underwear, every tube of toothpaste helps, Ricky Russell Byrd, a 55-year-old homeless man, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Byrd was among hundreds of homeless and disabled Atlantans, who were given hot meals, medical checkups and clothing during the Muslim community Day of Dignity events.
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A few hundred lined up Broad Street outside Giving Back to Humanity, a nonprofit that provides meals, shelter, clothing and job training to the homeless.
Volunteers offered free haircuts and handed out hygiene kits with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, medical supplies and towels.
During the event, Byrd received new jeans and a hygiene kit which he placed carefully beside his wheelchair.
Everything helps. I'm thankful, he said, with a smile on his face.
We're all very thankful.
This year's events were led by Islamic Relief, in a gesture by the area Muslims to serve their community.
Similar charitable Day of Dignity events were held Sunday on Auburn Avenue at the Community Masjid, the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, and two apartment complexes in Clarkston.
So far, Islamic Relief has offered help to hundreds of homeless in Houston, Detroit and Flint, Mich., and will soon serve people in Dallas, Phoenix and the Bronx, Kyle Ismail, Islamic Relief's program manager said.
The Atlanta event planned to feed more than 2,500 people.
The charitable events have offered Muslims an opportunity to help their needy neighbors, who are not covered by medical insurance.
We know these people don't have access to health care, said Zareem Alam, a 20-year-old Georgia State University student who grew up in Suwanee.
Outside the Giving Back to Humanity offices, volunteers provided free medical checkups, such as blood pressure and diabetes screening.
If we see that they need help, we can give them a list of free clinics so they can get what they need.
Clothes were also donated by Atlanta Muslim community for elderly women and their children.
We deal with all faiths here we don't care, Amirah Green, who helps run a shelter for battered women and their children.
If you're homeless and you're needy, we're here for you.
Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims have complained of discrimination and stereotypes because of their Islamic attires or identities.
Despite the frenzy, they seized the opportunity to introduce a true message of Islam, through activism.
Extending new bridges into the community, new groups were established, such as American Muslim Voice, founded by Samina Sundas of Palo Alto.
There is also the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was founded to help Muslims engage with their neighbors in civic life.
The Day of Dignity was introduced nationwide nine years ago, aiming at serving homeless and vulnerable Americans, whether Muslim or not.
Every year, the nation-wide effort aims to serve more than 20,000 homeless and people in need in 15 cities throughout the United States.
People receive health screenings, free food, and a variety of goods depending on their particular city.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net