(Alexandria, VA)— It was nearly midnight on Saturday, May 17—Arab American Service Day—when the staff of Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), American Third Pillar Charities (ATPC), and t-e Network for Arab American Professionals (NAAP) finished eight hours of distributing lunches to the homeless in Washington, DC.

On Saturday, May 17, Islamic Relief, NAAP and ATPC staff mobilized more than forty volunteers to assemble over 1,200 lunches for distribution to Washington, DC’s homeless population. The bag lunches included sandwiches, healthy drinks, snacks, and nutritious snack bars. After assembly, staff from the three organizations delivered the lunches to five homeless shelters, as well as individuals who have made their home on the streets or in parks in Washington, DC.

“Islamic Relief is everywhere from Arkansas to Afghanistan, but there are a lot of places in between,” said Said Durrah, IRUSA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Event Coordinator. “We don’t need to look far beyond our own backyard to find people in need of help.”

Washington, DC has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless reporting that more than 15,000 people are homeless in any given year in the District. Over 1,000 of these are children.

“Giving back to the community is the most important thing we can do,” said Durrah. “Arab-American Service Day is not just a day for Arabs to help out other Arabs. This day is a day for us to commemorate our humanity: for human beings to help other human beings.”

Islamic Relief USA has taken steps to address hunger through social services support through domestic programs, and national level advocacy to end hunger. Islamic Relief USA is a member of the Alliance to End Hunger, a diverse coalition of 90 member organizations—corporations, non-profit groups, universities, associations, individuals, health care providers, foundations, and faith-based organizations—all working together in the fight against hunger through partnerships, joint advocacy and educational awareness-raising activities.

Hunger and poverty are often inextricably linked, and many Americans—including many in Washington, DC – do not know how they will find their next meal.

By the end of the day on Saturday, May 17, there were over 1,200 people in Washington, DC who were relieved, at least temporarily, of that worry.

For more information about Islamic Relief USA, please visit IRUSA.org.


Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy and disease regardless of color, race, gender or creed, and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner. Islamic Relief USA aims to provide rapid relief in the event of human and natural disasters and to establish sustainable local development projects, allowing communities to better help themselves. Its programs benefit millions of people each year around the world, including in the United States.

Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Michelle Strucke

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