Ismaili community rallies for Ramadan COVID-19 relief

Food donations are coming in. Sewing machines are humming. The North Shore’s sizable Ismaili Muslim community is spending their Ramadan helping to ensure the less fortunate remain well fed and safe through COVID-19.

“One of the pillars during this holy month is to give back and it's a commitment to charity,” said Shelina Dilgir, spokeswoman for Ismaili CIVIC, a charitable organization operating across Canada. “Being mindful, giving to those less fortunate … those are strong aspects throughout the year being Muslim, but during Ramadan, they are even more heightened.”

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Normally, North Shore Ismailis would collect donations at their place of worship, the Ismaili Community Center and Jamatkhana on Gladwin Drive in North Vancouver. But with mass gatherings banned, they’ve had to retool and have struck an agreement with the Save-On-Foods at 879 Marine Dr. to install a new food donation box at the checkout where their members and other shoppers may contribute.

Donations of food will go directly to several food banks, include the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which operates on the North Shore. Last month, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank reported its client base growing by dozens every week, as a result of COVID-19.

Inside their homes, the group is making face masks to help stop the spread of the virus.

The masks will then be donated to other charities whose volunteers must interact with the public. Among them: the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Quest Food Exchange, Youth Covenant House, the YWCA, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Lookout Society.

“Our goal is to make 2,000 face masks,” she said. “We're finding that [our members] are actually really, really excited to because it's their way of doing something while still abiding by provincial regulations and federal health regulations.”

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