Zakat Foundation, Cricket Wireless team up in two-day COVID-19 food drive for Durham’s poorest public housing families

Hard-hit Hispanic, African American residents special focus 

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DURHAM, N.C. (Sept. 21, 2020) — Zakat Foundation of America and Cricket Wireless have joined hands for two upcoming grocery-box giveaways on Sept. 24 and 27 to feed deeply impoverished families, including residents of Durham’s McDougald Terrace, the area’s oldest and largest public housing complex. 

“Zakat Foundation is always on the front line to help with any disaster locally and globally, so Cricket Wireless decided to partner with Zakat Foundation in their food drive initiative for local communities in Durham, NC,” said Khawaja Balighuddin, exclusive Cricket Wireless Dealer in Durham, NC 

McDougald Terrace has become an emblem of America’s problem-plagued, originally race-based, low-income housing system and the epicenter of North Carolina’s intractable long-term public health crisis. That’s now intensified with the coronavirus outbreak. 

“This partnership will make a real difference, especially during this time when many families are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Balighuddin said. “It will allow us to help those in need and provide core necessities such as food for low-income families, and a chance to give back to the community.” 

Sept. 24 Grocery Giveaway 

Zakat Foundation and Cricket Wireless plan to hand out 60 free 25-pound grocery boxes containing a month’s supply of nonperishable items, like rice, oil, flour, soups, pasta and pasta sauce, along with canned chickpeas, vegetables and kidney beans. 

In partnership with local Latinx independent nonprofit El Centro Hispano, formed originally by the Catholic and Episcopal churches, the first distribution is part of Zakat Foundation honoring Hispanic Heritage Month with food giveaways among distressed Latinx communities across the country. 

“We’re commemorating serving our Latinx sisters and brothers, and all people regardless of color or creed, for 20 years,” said Amal Ali, Zakat Foundation’s director of brand communications. “But we are specifically partnering with various groups across the Hispanic community-service spectrum at this time, including the Mexican Consulate, to acknowledge the rich American Latino contribution to our country.” 

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, coinciding with the independence days of a number of Latin American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, all on Sept. 15, with Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrating self-rule on Sept. 16, 18, and 21, respectively. 

The Zakat Foundation-Cricket Wireless free-food distribution is set to take place Thursday, Sept. 24, at 4 p.m. at 3402 Eno home, Durham NC. 27705. 

Sept. 27 Grocery Giveaway 

Zakat Foundation and Cricket will do a second 25-pound-each grocery-box distribution to families of McDougald Terrace, on Sunday, Sept. 27, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., at 1501 Sima Ave Durham NC 27701. A representative from the Durham County Board of Commissioners will help with the hand out to residents. 

History of Service in Triangle Area 

Zakat Foundation relief specialists first rushed aid to North Carolina in the devastating wake of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, and then set up a permanent office in Durham. 

The global charity reprised its disaster relief work — this time helping coordinate before the fact with Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s disaster management agency — as Hurricane Florence bore down on North Carolina in mid-September 2018. 

Since the pandemic’s March outbreak in the U.S. and subsequent lockdowns, Zakat Foundation has provided the Triangle area’s needful families with lunch boxes, food baskets, hygiene kits, PPE (personal protective equipment), and trucked in tons of farm-fresh food. 

“We see the people here like family — and when family hurts you help,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director. 

Aid Needs Sky High 

Zakat Foundation relief specialists have established special relationships with the Lumberton community, 70% of whose population remains below the poverty line, with the pandemic delivering to them yet another economic blow. Many people haven't gone back to their homes since Florence hit. 

Zakat Foundation and Islamic Center volunteers have specially honed in on delivering food aid to McDougald Terrace families, many of whom are elderly with poor health care access, putting them at critical COVID-19 risk. 

The environmental perils at McDougald Terrace make its residents, young and old, incredibly vulnerable. In January of this year, protests broke out with the discovery of high carbon monoxide, lead paint, sewage, asbestos, and mold contamination, after three infants died in two months. 

Its residents, many elderly and health-compromised from years of exposure to the damaging conditions, evacuated their homes two days into the 2020 New Year. They began returning to their inadequately repaired, sometimes looted homes in March, just in time for the city’s coronavirus lock down. 

“Faith is action, not only what you believe in,” Demir said. “Faith is being there when people need you. We’re hoping to contribute a little bit to heal our nation, bring a little bit of love.”