The month of Dhul-Hijjah is marked by the pilgrimage to Mecca, but it’s also known as a period to increase one’s blessings through fasting and good deeds. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said: “There is no deed that is better in the sight of Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah.”
And what could be a better way to earn good deeds than by serving the community? In North Carolina, Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) volunteers planned a week of activities that included cooking at the Ronald McDonald house, providing fresh lunch to senior citizens, and collecting clothes for foster children.
The 99 Orphans team, an organization created by ZF volunteers, came up with the idea of hosting an Iftar dinner on the Day of Arafat, which takes place right before Eid al-Adha. The dinner was held at Greek Cuisine, a restaurant that has long supported ZF. The youth encouraged local Muslim families to break their fast at the restaurant, and the owner donated a portion of their sales towards the ZF Orphan Sponsorship Program (OSP).
For the past couple of weeks, volunteers have also been collecting clothing for local orphans – around 600 in Wake County, North Carolina. Nikki Lyons, a program consultant at Wake County Human Services, joined the Iftar dinner and expressed her gratitude after receiving a full container of clothing for the foster children.
Meanwhile in Chapel Hill, N.C., ZF volunteers visit the Ronald McDonald House on a monthly basis where they prepare warm meals for sick children and their families.
“I love this experience,” says Maria, an adult volunteer. “My boys never cook at home. This way they are helping others while also learning to cook.”
That same week, volunteers visited the Durham Center for Senior Life where they served warm lunches to 120 seniors. After providing home-cooked meals, volunteers would talk or play board games with the senior citizens, who very much enjoyed the energetic company of the youth.
“It is in our Muslim tradition to honor and respect our seniors, so ZF is always very happy to serve you at this center,” said Nayma, a youth volunteer.
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to honor you and serve you lunch,” added Noor, another volunteer. “This is so fulfilling. I wish I could do this more often.”