(Newtown, C.T.) Since the tragic school shooting took place in December 2012, which resulted in the deaths of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, Islamic Relief USA’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has been working with local groups to provide emotional support to communities in need.

The effort is lead by DART Chaplains who have been providing emotional support and spiritual care to affected families every day since the shooting to help communities in and around Newtown by directing crisis care sessions in various mosques in the region. Fifteen sessions are scheduled up until June 1, 2013. Islamic Relief USA Chaplains have also joined the Association of Religious Communities (ARC), which has been tasked with forming volunteer teams that will continue the effort after the first group is relieved of its tasks.

“We are here for the teachers and parents as well,” said IRUSA Chaplain Br. Abdul Malik Negedu. “This is a tragedy that affects all of us, all humanity.”

DART manager Derrick Lea met with American Red Cross officials, interfaith clergy and local Muslims. A White House representative joined the interfaith clergy meeting via conference call to take part in the discussion. Early this week, Lea continued to meet with officials and local community members to make plans for additional training and the provision of additional emotional support in group and individual settings.

“While I am able to get involved with this effort, truly this is an event that will be led by our local people on the ground,” Lea said. “They are performing admirably and I am extremely proud of their work.”

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Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization with nine consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator through 2012, and subsequent above-average ranking. 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. In 2011, Islamic Relief USA programs benefited more than 5 million people in 34 countries, including the United States.

In addition to its high rating on Charity Navigator, 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.

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