By Amina Bey
NEWARK, N.J. – In March 2020, our world was being ravaged by a new and fairly unknown Coronavirus. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, urban communities and people of color were disproportionately adversely affected by not only the medical issues but the economic issues that ensued.
As we witnessed so many in our community struggle with health challenges, become unemployed because of COVID-19, and many forced to choose rent over food, we decided to band together to provide assistance to the Believers in our community.
The Muslim Community Relief Fund (MCRF) was organized in April 2020, at the beginning of the Coronavirus Crisis, by Amina Bey, Craig Drinkard, Jamal Majied, Imam Ali Salaam and Imam Antar Mateen.
As Muslims who are active in the community, we believed it necessary to stand in the gap for those who were experiencing food insecurities aided by the pandemic.
MCRF partnered with the Newark nonprofit organization, Women In Support Of the Million Man March (WISOMMM), of which Hajja Amina Bey is the Chairperson. WISOMMM served as a financial conduit to assist MCRF in collecting donations.
MCRF also partnered with Imam Antar Mateen’s service organization, Antar’s Helping Hands, to help provide outreach and delivery of meals.
MCRF solicits and collects donated funds from the community and purchases Shoprite Supermarket Gift Cards to distribute to individuals and families in need. Muslims in the Greater Newark area reach out to MCRF directly or indirectly through those in the community that knows the organization, or via our email.
There is an application form provided to those seeking assistance and based on the household size, recipients are provided Shoprite Gift Cards in the amount of $100, $150 or $200. The organization has distributed over $13,000 in gift cards and has assisted over 200 people in the Greater Newark area. The Shoprite Gift Cards were chosen so recipients could also obtain basic necessities for their families, such as diapers, baby formula and other personal items.
Recipients are eligible to reapply for additional assistance if needed.
In addition to the gift cards, MCRF also has provided and delivered hot meals to Muslim Pioneers (Senior Citizens) in our community during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
As we enter year three of this global pandemic in March 2022, we find that we are evolving into an endemic – something we are learning to live with and work through long term. Unfortunately, food insecurities remain at the top of the list of challenges in our community, and the need that created MCRF still exists.
We pray that Allah will continue to bless MCRF with the opportunity to serve our Brothers and Sisters in Islam and that He will continue to bless all who continue to support this effort.
For more information, please email MuslimCommunityFund@gmail.com. Donations can be made via CashApp to $MuslimFund.