Imagine working hard all night long and when it’s time to go home, stress and anxiety hits, because you remember you have no home to go to. Instead, you drive to the nearest abandoned parking lot, recline the seat and sleep. Imagine serving your country in the military, only to return penniless and forgotten about.
That’s the reality for half a million homeless Americans. In addition to more than 50,000 veterans, one in 30 children in the U.S. do not have a roof over their heads, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
In response, Zakat Foundation of America (ZF), in partnership with the Long Island Muslim Society (LIMS) and Mary Inn Soup Kitchen, served fresh food to 300 homeless people in Hempstead, New York. Volunteers sorted clothing, prepared shower packages, and distributed 300 hygiene kits.
“We chose to help the homeless in Hempstead due to its high level of poverty,” said Mr. Murat Kose, ZF’s East Coast Programs Director.
More than 20 percent of the population in Hempstead lives below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average of 14.7 percent. The largest group living in poverty are females aged 25-34.
“I work at night, but cannot afford housing,” said Mark, who attended the event. “I come here 5 a.m. after work and park my car in front of this building. Sleep until 10-11 a.m., then take a shower at this facility, eat my lunch and leave.”
Long Island Muslim Society has been a strong partner of ZF’s international campaigns such as orphan sponsorship (OSP), Ramadan distributions, and emergency aid for Syria. ZF has been active in the greater New York City area since 2010 and plans to increase the number of programs.
“Thanks to Zakat Foundation for the opportunity,” said Rumana, a ZF volunteer. “We would like to continue to volunteer again.”