Atlanta Muslims offer community service on “Day of Dignity”

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Atlanta Muslims offer community service on “Day of Dignity”

Ricky Russell Byrd ran his fingers across his new jeans and carefully put the hygiene kit he’d just received down beside his wheelchair on the curb.

“Every dime, every penny, every sock, every piece of underwear, every tube of toothpaste helps,” the 55-year-old homeless man said. “Everything helps. I’m thankful. We’re all very thankful.”

Byrd was among hundreds of homeless and disabled metro Atlantans who were given hot meals, medical checkups and clothing during “Day of Dignity” events at eight metro locations. The charities were sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and provided metro area Muslims the chance to serve their communities, Kyle Ismail, Islamic Relief’s program manager, said.

The “Day of Dignity” is now in its ninth year and serves thousands of people nationwide. So far this year, Islamic Relief has helped the homeless in Houston, Detroit and Flint, Mich., and will soon serve people in Dallas, Phoenix and the Bronx, Ismail said. The Atlanta event planned to feed more than 2,500 people.

A few hundred lined up Broad Street outside Giving Back to Humanity, a nonprofit that provides meals, shelter, clothing and job training to the homeless. Volunteers offered free haircuts and handed out hygiene kits with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, medical supplies and towels.

Similar charitable “Day of Dignity” events were held Sunday on Auburn Avenue under the I-75/I-85 bridge, at the intersection of Courtland and Pine streets, the Community Masjid, the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam and two apartment complexes in Clarkston.

Outside the Giving Back to Humanity offices, Zareem Alam oversaw volunteers providing free medical checkups, such as blood pressure and diabetes screening. Two doctors were available for consultations.

“We know these people don’t have access to health care,” said Alam, a 20-year-old Georgia State University student who grew up in Suwanee. “If we see that they need help, we can give them a list of free clinics so they can get what they need.”

Amirah Green, who helps run a shelter for battered women and their children, sat behind piles of clothing that had been donated by members of Atlanta’s Muslim communities.

“We deal with all faiths here — we don’t care,” Green said. “If you’re homeless and you’re needy, we’re here for you.”

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