Chicago (Sept. 1, 2020) — On Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Zakat Foundation of America will deliver and distribute approximately 7,500 pounds of farm-fresh produce, and 1,500 medical masks to Pilsen families hit hard by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will take place at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
"I am so excited to serve alongside Zakat Foundation to serve our community,” said 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez. “The need is huge, and I am here to serve. Count me in for anything.”
The food and medical PPE (personal protective equipment) relief for hurting families comes in the wake of Congress hanging workers out to dry by letting the $600-a-week unemployment benefits expire on July 25. Rocked by COVID-19 surges, months of intermittent business shutdowns, and violent police crackdowns on growing crowds of diverse anti-racism protests, American working families and particularly those in Latino, African American and Native American communities are facing enormous financial challenges.
“Godliness means acting quickly with compassion for the vulnerable,” said Halil Demir, executive director of Zakat Foundation, a Bridgeview, Illinois-based international humanitarian charity increasingly called to serve the suffering here at home. “We didn’t wait for an invitation. We’ve moved all across the country to bring these victims of racism and persecution the most basic sustenance of life cut from them — fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk.”
The global charity has delivered about 1.3 million pounds of produce, milk, and hundreds of thousands of PPE items into countless food- and health care desert communities from coast to coast. The organization is conducting this distribution in partnership with UNO (United Neighborhood Organization), Benito Juarez Academy, and Heartland Alliance.
“I want to thank Zakat Foundation so much for thinking of us,” said Sigcho-Lopez. “My office is more than glad to contribute in any capacity.”
Alderman Sigcho-Lopez will be joined by U.S. Congressman Chuy García, State Senator Tony Munoz, Congressman Chuy Garcia and State Representative Theresa Mah. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya. Along with Zakat Foundation relief workers, they’ll distribute 300 crates of produce fresh from local farmers.
Refugee and immigrant communities who live in Pilsen and its surrounding neighborhoods will also benefit from the food and medical mask distribution. Each family will receive a 25-pound produce box and one bag containing five protective masks.
“For two decades, Zakat Foundation has stood with the oppressed, providing aid to underrepresented communities throughout the world. Now is no time for us to stay silent,” said Amna Mirza, the global charity’s head of marketing and communications, who originally conceived the idea of Zakat Foundation’s fresh-food rescue campaign. “This is what Zakat Foundation stands for. To truly feel connected to each other. To understand the plight of our neighbor. To feel empathy. To understand it’s our humanity that connects us. It’s putting our common humanity above what divides us.”