Muslims mark Ramadan with donations to DuPage homeless

To mark the Islamic month of Ramadan, a Glendale Heights-based service group is giving back to the community with the donation of $3,000 worth of personal care products to DuPage PADS.

ICNA Relief Chicago is the local chapter of ICNA Relief, a national Muslim service organization started by the Islamic Circle of North America. It provides help domestically to people in need through food pantries, transitional housing, family services and counseling and other services.

"We believe our neighbors deserve most of our attention and we have to build community here," said ICNA Relief Chicago Executive Director Saima Azfar.

While the organization regularly serves others, its leaders decided to host a drive for personal hygiene products for homeless women specifically in preparation for Ramadan, which began with the sighting of the new moon Wednesday night.

Azfar said the month of fasting from dawn to dusk is "a very spiritual" time for Muslims to grow closer to God and do charitable acts for the less fortunate.

"A very important thing this month is reaching out to the needy and deserving," she said. "Not eating and drinking for 17 hours, you feel the hunger and feel the pain of those who don't have food, don't have shelter."

The collection of body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, combs and other items ran through the month of May. Azfar said the outpouring of support demonstrated how "our community has so much good in it."

ICNA Chicago representatives will drop off the donations at DuPage PADS on Tuesday. Azfar said she hopes the items help protect the women's "decency and dignity."

"These ladies are homeless. They're the most vulnerable. Nobody thinks about them," she said.

In addition, ICNA Relief is hosting a kitchen kit drive for refugees through June 27. Each kit must contain specific items, including a dinner set for eight, cutlery, cooking pots, knives, a microwave and other kitchen utensils, along with sheets, pillows and blankets.

Donations and Wal-Mart gift cards are still being accepted for the kits. Anyone with questions should email or call (630) 489-8390.

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