Fighting Stereotypes and Hunger, Satisfying Hearts
It's rooted in one verse from the Koran: "We feed you for the sake of God alone. No thanks do we seek, nor reward."
And the volunteers with Project Downtown Gainesville set out on weekends to do just that. For two years, they've fed about 100 people on Sundays with hot lunches and about 50 people on Saturdays with bagged lunches of sandwiches, fruit and dessert. The group says not only are they fighting hunger, they're battling stereotypes.
"We care for our community," says Project Downtown Outreach Coordinator Hassan Rashid, "we're trying to fight the stigma that certain people have about us because this is our city, this is our country and we really love this place and we want to show that we care as well."
And it's not just food that Project Downtown Gainesville offers to those who come to Bo Diddley Plaza. It's also conversation and fun, playing games with kids and laughing with them.
Kirk Stender comes almost every time the Muslim students are out.
"I've gotten to know some of these guys when they were freshmen and sophomores and now they're seniors and juniors and it's just great to talk to them."
Topics include Middle Eastern food, religion, politics...anything he wants to know. Stender says he wishes other organizations were more like the students, serving simply for the sake of serving.
"Be as kind hearted as they've been over the years," Stender advises. "They don't get enough acclamation for what they do."
He promptly claps in their direction.
And as the Koran tells them, that's enough.
If you'd like to donate for Project Downtown's winter coat drive or sponsor an event of theirs, you can go to their website pdgainesville.org, sign up page http://www.signupgenius.com/go/sponsor7
or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/9474707244/.
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