Believers reach across religious lines to feed, clothe inner city families

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hundreds of inner city metro families now have the main course for their Thanksgiving meal. Several faith organizations reached across religious lines to work side-by-side Saturday, helping those who need it.

Imam Sulaiman Salaam heads up the annual Turkey and Winter Item Giveaway at Emmanuel Community off Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. He said the Project Neighborly Needs event is about "friends of all walks of life, all nationalities, all here just to serve humanity." Fifteen years ago, Salaam and a few others collected what they could out of their own pockets, but now, the program helps hundreds.

Salaam said, “We went from two or three turkeys to we’re blessed to give away 500 turkeys and we have thousands of winter items, most of them new this year.”

Families waited patiently in the parking lot to take part. Volunteers greeted them once they got inside, they picked up warm clothes and books, got free healthcare advice, then headed back outside for turkey.

Nine-year-old volunteer Sameh Haroon helped with registration duties.

He said, “When people get to me, I have to write their names down. We do this every year, and I did it last year. We give out free clothes, free hats, free gloves, and free books.”

Salaam said, “This in my opinion is living your faith. It’s not about just a ritualistic believer in God. It’s actually taking what you read and putting it into action.” He said the event clothes and feeds the less fortunate, but it also fosters solidarity amongst different faith systems.

“Interfaith work is very important to me. There aren’t just all Muslims here. I have people of Christian faith, I have some people from the Jewish faith who are supposed to be volunteering to help us today,” said Salaam.

Volunteer Eve Roath agreed. She helped represent New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church. Roath said, “We’re not really looking at religion at this moment. We’re looking at helping the community.”

Salaam said it’s also about sharing his faith in a positive way. “What’s important to me also, especially as a Muslim, is that people get to see us and see what we do, so when you hear negative things being said, you can gauge it by what you already know personally.”

Believers from across the board handed out hope and gave people something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Saturday’s event was the 15th year for this giveaway.

Contributing groups included The Crescent Peace SocietyAl-Haqq Islamic Center, as well as Jewish and Christian groups.

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