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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Muslim women's group helps needy families at Bailey's Elementary

The Muslim Women's Coalition donates Ramadan baskets to Bailey's Elementary School. [MWC photo]

Add the Muslim Women’s Coalition to the list of local organizations that quietly go about the business of making our community a better place.

This spring, just before the start of Ramadan, the group made 101 “Ramadan baskets” – laundry baskets filled with food and other items – and delivered them to the needy, including 70 to Muslim and Hispanic families at Bailey’s Elementary School

MWC members deliver baskets to Bailey's.
The women started the Ramadan basket project after 9/11. “We wanted to get involved in the community, not just because there is a need, but we wanted to dispel the negative views about Muslims that were taking hold after 9/11,” says Uzma Farooq, vice president of the MWC and director of the group’s Greater Washington, D.C., branch.

“We also wanted to provide hope in the community” as a way of discouraging youths from being attracted to radical elements, Farooq says. At the same time, the MWC wanted to provide a platform for women to “address the challenges of our time and learn about the beauty and values of Islam,” which include compassion for the community, protection of the environment, and restoring dignity and respect to the destitute.

The MWC first got involved with Bailey’s Elementary School a couple of years ago when a teacher suggested the group donate toys in December. Then last year, the group donated $2,275 worth of grocery gift cards during Thanksgiving and helped about 40 families during Ramadan in an effort facilitated by parent liaison Soudad Albairamani and PTA President Gwynnen Chervenic.

“The need there is immense,” Farooq says, noting that some parents can’t afford adequate food or winter coats.

The Ramadan baskets also served as a learning experience, as the Bailey’s families asked questions about the month-long fast, and MWC members offered answers.

The holiday, which is based on a lunar calendar, started June 18 this year. For 30 days, Muslims in good health refrain from eating during the hours from dawn to dusk. “It’s a month of giving, charity, and refection, when people get rid of bad habits and help their community,” Farooq says.

Also this spring, the MWC donated Ramadan baskets to nine Iraqi refugee families in the Annandale and Fairfax area. That project was coordinated with help from Marie Monsen of John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale and former Iraqi refugee Amer Almash.

MWC provides baskets and other assistance to women victims of domestic violence though Doorways for Women and Families and to other needy families in collaboration with the Arlington-based NOVA Catholic Community, the Seekers Church in D.C., the Bridges to Independence program for the homeless, and other groups throughout the region. 

The baskets contain about $75 to $80 worth of food (bags of rice, canned food, boxed items, tea, sugar, dry milk, and the like), personal hygiene items (such as shampoo and toothpaste) and clothing (such as socks and gloves). Baskets for Muslims might include other items, like dates, a Ramadan calendar, and prayer rug.

For those who receive a basket, “tt gives them a sense of self worth and dignity and a sense of ownership,” Farooq says.

Last year, MWC spent about $15,000 on this project. Every cent donated to MWC gets plowed back to the community.

MWC is an independent, faith-based organization based in Falls Church and not affiliated with a mosque. Every year, the group hosts an interfaith day of prayer focusing on love, harmony, and peace through literature and music, as well as cross-cultural understanding.  

Farooq believes it’s critical to give the broader community a positive perspective on Muslims, especially during the current political climate when there’s growing concern about violent extremism. “If we can develop a relationship with one person and develop deeper understanding, we have achieved our goal,” she says.

About 30 volunteers helped prepare the Ramadan baskets this year, including college students and church members. The group is always in need of more volunteers and donations. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact the groups D.C. office. Donations can be sent to MWC, 6644 Tansey Drive, Falls Church VA 2204


  1. Its about time these nationals invading our neighborhoods pitch a hand in helping and improving things for the poor and their neighbors. This is not a take all and abuse our hospitality on the backs of the few but about giving back.

    Their new homes have welcomed them to a place of freedom, liberty and justice, and many out of necessity are still stuck in some conflicting cultural mores that are in defiance of our fundamental liberties.

    When they recognize this is their new home and start giving back instead of sending money back home ( which i recognize in many cases necessary) is when the rest of us will engage them as a good neighbors and friends. The raging liberals are always saying it is the rest of us that discriminate. It is a two way street, they need to pitch in, pick up litter in front of their houses, help their neighborhoods, cut their grass and be respectful of our american cultural mores and values.

    Good article Annandale Blog, a reflective story on immigrants helping others, other than helping themselves to the shrinking american pie makes me hopeful.

    1. this post is a brilliant microcosm of every reason why I hate people that tout jingoist shit from an ivory tower of superiority. please.

    2. Some people obviously cannot deal with reality. Its a generalist statement but its probably 75% spot on.

    3. Well then to throw such stones I hope you both spend lots of time giving back to the community, assisting the destitute, and reaching out to the poor with money out of your own pocket.

    4. I'd like to know what you do, given your judgmental tone?

    5. Atrocioius, typical, uneducated comment. Unless you are descended directly from the Native Americans your people were the "nationals invading the neighborhood."

      A vile idiot spewing hate.

      Good luck with your new friends.

    6. @546. I don't do anything. I don't give back to the community, assist the destitute, or help the poor. Occasionally I give 20 bucks to the Annandale HS band, or shovel my neighbors walks. Then again, I'm not the one decrying the invading brown people, because that would be hypocritical. Entiendes?

    7. To 10:28, if you read the article it clearly states they started after 9/11 which was 2001. So you are saying it is about time they started, why did you wait 13+ years to make that statement?
      I've lived here 40+ years and have assisted all branches of the military and have worked for the feds. Most people like you could not even tell me apart from the so called nationals as you put it.
      Don't judge a book by its cover.

  2. Wow, 10:28. You were just ready to pounce on this topic, weren't you? Your comments are so knee-jerk, so predictable that it's almost (but not quite) funny. I've heard junk like that being spouted since I was a child, and yet it still is ridiculously broad-brushed, ignorant, and resentful, and almost entirely WRONG. The people I've known who still cling to such narrow views have yet, decades later, to get to know any of the people they're actually spouting about instead of opening their eyes and actually learning about people, cultures, and issues beyond their own tightly-guarded, self-imposed boundaries. They're standing on the inside of a hazy, small sphere of existence and raging at a world they barely know. I really do hope you can dig your way out; you're suffocating.


  3. I just realized 546 might not be talking to me. If so my bad. It's so hard when y'all are just anon.