As the festive season of giving approaches, Zakat Foundation of America’s (ZF) East Coast volunteers are already stepping up to respond to present-day crises around the world. These past few weeks, youth volunteers have been focusing on two major humanitarian campaigns: emergency relief aid for Rohingya refugees and Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
To raise money, ZF’s Delaware office hosted a series of dinners to celebrate the rich diversity of the local community. The events, also popularly known as “cultural nights,” provided the space for community members to share their rich ethnic heritage — and of course delicious food.
Many Indian-American families based in the Delaware area cooked traditional meals including sizzling tandoori chicken, spicy biryani, and a Bengali dessert called kalo jaam. A table displayed traditions from the Indian subcontinent including mendhi (henna) and colorful sarees (dresses).
“I enjoyed having Indian food and learning about your culture while participating in a great cause,” said Nancy Houston, one of the community members. All proceeds from the event went to ZF efforts to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
By now, the cultural nights have become a staple of ZF’s East Coast programs. Murat Kose, East Coast Programs Director, attributes the success to three main reasons: the events serve as an outing for the entire family, attendees can learn about world cultures, and all proceeds go to a good cause. The events also present a unique opportunity for families to give back, rather than giving into the over-consumption associated with holiday shopping.
In addition to responding to the Rohingya crisis, ZF youth volunteers also organized a similar event in North Carolina to help affected communities in Puerto Rico. This time around, the menu offered classical Turkish dishes like lahmacun, a flat thin bread spread with minced ground meat and herbs, and Turkish-style cheese breads.
Want to raise money for a good cause? Have your own creative ideas for fundraisers? We’re always open to work with student and community organizations! Feel free to contact us at [email protected], and make sure to follow us on social media (@zakatus).