boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Helping the homeless on Ramadan

Muslims put faith in action at local community center

Volunteers (from left) Tusneem Janoudi, 11, Rayhan El-Alami, 17, Suhair Janoudi, 12, and Debra Portman (behind shirt) helped a man find his size at the community center yesterday. Volunteers (from left) Tusneem Janoudi, 11, Rayhan El-Alami, 17, Suhair Janoudi, 12, and Debra Portman (behind shirt) helped a man find his size at the community center yesterday. (Patricia McDonnell for the Boston Globe)

Local Muslims observing Ramadan helped uphold one of the pillars of their faith yesterday - charity.

Waves of people streamed in and out of the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury as part of the second annual National Humanitarian Day for the Homeless.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast and are encouraged by their faith to assist the needy, volunteers at the center said yesterday.

"We always try to be charitable, especially during this month. It helps all of us to fulfill that obligation, and we end up seeing a lot of smiles," said Mona Ahmad, a Saugus resident who also volunteered at last year's event. "We're fasting, but realize how very blessed we are because we have food we can eat and some don't."

The event, organized by area Muslims, is part of a national campaign by Islamic Relief USA to help homeless people during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Thousands were expected to pitch in and volunteer their time at similar programs in 19 other US cities this weekend.

In the basement of the Tobin center, booths were staffed by medical professionals providing health checkups.

Asef Karim, a medical graduate student at Boston University who is a dentist in Vancouver, was checking people's blood pressure.

"Seeing the turnout is great, and it's exciting to see people working together and fasting together and enjoying doing this," Karim said.

There were single men, grandparents with their grandchildren, and couples receiving health checkups, a bag lunch, hygiene kits, and warm clothes for the winter.

"I'm so grateful," said Karen, a grandmother from Dorchester. "It's good for the community, and saves me money, so I don't have to buy things like gloves and hats."

The program also handed out toys, games, and crayons for children like 10-year-old Kevin, who came with his mother, Deborah O'Malley of South Boston.

"I live in the projects, and we're just getting by," she said. "Homelessness is a big issue, but it's all year round. People do their thing around Christmas, but you're always looking for other resources."

Organizers said they expected to provide assistance to about 1,500 needy people through the program.

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES