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Muslim Association Responds To North Side Food Pantry’s Call For Help

Casey Chafin
90.5 WESA

Amidst calls for increased donations for the North Side Community Food Pantry last week, one group to answer the request is the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh.

Saima Sitwat, executive secretary of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh, said the group came up with $1,000 to donate to the pantry over the weekend.

“This idea is not new to Muslim Association of Pittsburgh, in the past we have worked with North Hills Community Outreach or many other organizations whenever the need arises for any other help that their Muslim neighbors can help them with,” Sitwat said.

She said she thought of collecting donations after she saw a news story about the pantry’s shortage and felt inspired to act.

“They would need much more supplies when kids are home for winter break, and as a mother of two kids myself, it touched my heart and I know that when they are home they definitely eat a lot of food,” she said.

The Muslim group was founded five years ago and one of its goals is to exhibit the Islamic value of charity, especially during the holiday season, according to Sitwat.

“It’s interesting because we have an Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar, and this year our Prophet Muhammad’s birthday falls very closely in with Christ’s birthday on Dec. 25,” she said. “And we have talked about it at Sunday school how charity is one of the biggest values that Prophet Muhammad has emphasized.”

Sue Kerr, pantry volunteer and neighbor, said over the past week, the pantry has received roughly 6 tons of food.

“At this point, we’re asking people not to donate food, because we have enough …we would prefer that they give that to their local pantry,” Kerr said. “We can still accept financial donations.”

She said a social media campaign involving different photographs led to an influx in donations over the past week.

“We put quotes in there about what we needed and the facts of who was coming here, and we started posting them with the hope that people would respond to the visual images,” she said. “We didn’t anticipate quite the level of response that we did have.”

The food pantry has enough food to last through the remainder of the year, according to Kerr.

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