Tomorrow morning, while many other college students are sleeping off Saturday night's highs, a group of Atlanta's young Muslim population will be packing up lunches to be distributed to the city's homeless and needy. The Muslims are part of a larger nationwide movement known as Project Downtown.
Project Downtown was started by a few students in Miami, Florida and was soon adopted as a larger mission by the Muslim Students Association National organization. It is now active in more than 30 chapters around the country.
Their aim is not solely charity, but to change the situation of homelessness in America. Project Downtown passes out food, clothing, hygiene kits and school supplies for needy children. But volunteers strive to give emotional support in addition to physical support.
Muslims are commanded to give charity constantly. It is one of the pillars of Islam, the Muslim faith, and is regularly mentioned alongside prayer in the Qur'an, which Muslims believe to be the word of God. In one verse of the Qur'an, it is mentioned: "We feed you for the sake of God alone, no reward do we seek, nor thanks." (76:9)
Tomorrow, in addition to food, students will also be handing out clothing and items to protect from the cold. This winter has seen colder temperatures than normal for the Atlanta area, which has been particularly dangerous for the homeless population.
The students will be preparing food starting at 11 am in the parking lot of Al Farooq Masjid on 14th street in Atlanta. They will then be to Hurt Park at 12:30 to distribute the food and any warm clothing items they have collected.