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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

At Last Day of Dignity, A Community Comes Together

As I walked up to the Oak Crest Community Center in Capitol Heights, Md., the cold wind hit me in the face. But the chill was soon replaced by a warm chant—“Day of Dignity, Today is Your Day”—sung by the volunteers as they welcomed beneficiaries at Day of Dignity event in mid-December.

It was the last event of Islamic Relief USA's 2010 Day of Dignity season, the final city out of 22 we visited this year. And the time spent at Oak Crest was as meaningful and special as the first 2010 Day of Dignity event in South Dakota last June.

Recipients were lined up throughout the community center, waiting patiently to receive their passport, which signified their entry into the Day of Dignity event. The beneficiaries’ first stop was the gym, where they were treated to a large cadre of services and gifts, ranging from International House of Pancakes coupons to community college registration forms.

After they left the gym, they went into the next room where they were welcomed with warm meals, cotton candy, and children’s activities, including entertainment from local school bands.

The next room housed a medical clinic. Dentists and doctors provided checkups while volunteer nurses administered flu shots. The journey ended in the clothing lounge, where recipients choose whatever they wanted from racks of clothing, including shirts, coats, and socks. The beneficiaries who came out to this last Day of Dignity event left with smiles on their faces and bags of goods.

One gentleman stopped me and said, “Thanks I really appreciated this,” and then walked away with his groceries. But the funny thing is, I appreciated him giving me the opportunity to give to others. It is a beautiful way to live.

This was truly a community affair—a symbiotic relationship between the volunteers and the beneficiaries, and I felt truly blessed to be a part of Day of Dignity 2010.

-- Karim Amin, Domestic Programs Coordinator at Islamic Relief USA
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