Islamic youth program provides 100 Thanksgiving meals to families

Photo: Members of the Islamic Center of Irving organize 134 turkeys to be given to families in need. Each paper sack, or food basket, contained a meal that fed a family of eight. / Photo by Nick Kammerer

The Islamic Center of Irving provided 100 Thanksgiving meals to 100 families on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Coordinated by the Center’s youth committee, youth director, Abbas Abdullah, and his wife, Mashonda Abdullah, led the initiative.

“Today we’re doing the YMX (Young Muslims Experience) gifts. We want to encourage the youth to give back to their community and make an impact; basically to be a blessing in their community,” Abbas said. “My wife came up with the idea to give a food basket to those [in need] during this time of year, so that they can share a nice meal with their family. Inside of the meals you have one turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mash potato, green beans, peas and corn. They feed a family of eight.”

The dinner basket idea originated from Mashonda’s mother, June, who participated in a similar church initiative during Mashonda’s childhood. Fittingly, Tuesday’s dinner baskets were named “June’s Baskets.”

“We wanted to show the youth they can help out those around their community in need. We went out for about three days and went to several different locations and purchased all of the items in the food baskets. We started out with a humble goal of feeding 400, but we exceeded that from the help of our community, and we purchased 134 turkeys,” Abbas said.

The generous Islamic youth program planned Tuesday’s distribution weeks in advance.

“[The youth] met three or four weeks ago and my wife pitched the idea to the youth. They collaborated and came up with the logistics of everything and other items to go in the bag,” Abbas said. “My wife wanted to show [the youth] about nutrition, how to prepare a meal and smart shopping. We’re actually going to go door to door into the neighborhood and hand out these dinner baskets.”

People of all religions were welcomed to the Islamic Center of Irving’s meal distribution.

“We want the people to know that your neighbors here at the Islamic Center are a blessing to your community. Our doors are open. We want to help out those around us and make an impact and to make our community much better,” Abbas said. “What we try to do with the youth is develop them to be good citizens, to believe in God and do what’s right. We want to develop them to nice, model citizens that will benefit our community.”

The Islamic Center of Irving is located on Esters road, just north of S.H. 183. For more information about the mosque, visit www.irvingmasjid.org .