Muslims wrap and donate gifts to needy children

On Saturday Dec. 17, Muslims wrapped around 620 gifts for children in need in honor of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday at the Islamic Center of America's third annual "Gifts of the Messenger" event. The celebration lasted from 1 to 4 p.m. "Giving is a prophetic tradition" was the event's motto. 

Muslim families carried on the tradition, bringing gifts, many of which were picked by the children themselves — for either a boy or a girl in need. These children were encouraged to shop for items for the less fortunate, while celebrating the Prophet's birthday and displaying what they've learned from him. 

Volunteers recruited by the United Network of Islam (U.N.I.) team wrapped the gifts as the children enjoyed pizza and sweets. White balloons inscribed with "Happy Holidays" adorned the halls. White and red boxes labeled with "boy" or "girl" also shone on the side as families filled them with the wrapped presents. 

The center delivered the gifts to four churches, 19 Syrian refugee families through ACCESS, the Dearborn Fire Department for burn victims and three shelters. Kassem Allie, chairman of the Islamic Center of America and event coordinator, said he was happy with the turnout, expressing his thanks for the Mainstay Foundation's collaboration and the United Network of Islam team for managing the event. 

He said it's a duty to help people in need and that everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays. Samaah Abboud, co-chair of the U.N.I and lead volunteer, said the Dearborn-based Mainstay Foundation provided the team with instructions, thorough information of materials and the necessary actions needed for a successful event. 

"We were able to reach out to our followers to gather volunteers," she added, referring to the U.N.I team. As for the turnout, she said they're really thankful for it. "We were all extremely grateful for the turnout," she said. "Hamdillah (Thank God), it was the generosity of the community and the time and work of the volunteers that made this event successful." 

Abboud said they hope people learn more about Islam from this event. "We want people to learn the importance of applying the true lessons of Islam and our prophet's teachings," she said. She added that the duty of Muslims is to improve life in the community. 

"Prophet Mohammad exemplified generosity through his life," she said. "And as followers of Islam, we act as a duty to make the community a better place for all." 

Abboud said that humans are all equals in humanity no matter their differences and used a quote found on cards that were passed around at the event to further explain. "[It's] 'A person is either your brother in faith or your equal in humanity...' from the directives of Imam Ali, Nahjul Balagha Letter 53," she said. 

By Zahraa Farhat
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