Islamic Relief USA - Day of Dignity 2019 and 2020
‘Engaging with those in need of neighborly assistance’
“More than 46 million people—including 16 million children—live in poverty in the United States” - Islamic Relief USA
Founded in California in 1993, Islamic Relief USA provides relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world.
IRUSA provides emergency disaster relief and spearheads development projects in multiple sectors, including education, income generation, orphan support, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation. IRUSA directly supports international projects in these sectors in nearly 30 countries around the world. In addition to its international relief and development initiatives, IRUSA supports projects to help disadvantaged communities within the United States.
IRUSA’s Day of Dignity is a day to come together, working together for a better world. This annual event - which services communities in over 19 cities across the USA - creates an opportunity for caring communities to provide services to their neighbors in need. Food, clothing, blankets, and hygiene kits are just some of the items distributed during Day of Dignity events. And, often, free medical care, screenings, and even barber services are provided.
CITYPAK has proudly partnered with IRUSA since 2018 to supply much-needed high-quality backpacks to those experiencing housing transition or socioeconomic challenges. This ongoing relationship initially came about due to a mutual connection between Islamic Social Services of Oregon State and CITYPAK. Sr. Laila Hajoo (President, Islamic Social Services of Oregon State), inquired whether IRUSA would consider using a portion of the grant money they were giving them to purchase a number of CITYPAKs. Seeing the PAKs as providing something tangible that those experiencing hardship could use on a daily basis, IRUSA started purchasing the custom PAKs to give to all of their partners who requested to host distributions.
Of course, the world has experienced vast change since 2018. Much of this change has greatly impacted the communities that IRUSA’s Day of Dignity events directly serve. As a result, the number of overall PAK’s being requested by IRUSA partners has increased and alongside it, a need to adapt the delivery methods for getting the PAKs into the communities. For example, many of the 2020 Day of Dignity events became drive-thru only, with very few walk-ups, which meant that alternative options for distributing personal necessities to those in housing transition needed to be explored.
IRUSA’s Day of Dignity events are implemented via partnerships with local organizations that work year round to serve those in need in their communities.
As a key service provider for Day of Dignity, CITYPAK’s are filled by IRUSA at a national level with food, school supplies, coats, and more. Many partners at a state and city level go beyond this, ensuring the PAKs are paired with whatever those in their communities need most, such as shoes, diapers, or maternity clothes.
"I've never been more grateful to work for a nonprofit like IRUSA... to reach the most vulnerable, like those without housing, and supply them with hygiene kits and one of a kind products like the CITYPAK backpacks that they treasure and use daily as a means of security for their belongings." - Donia Abdallah, Northeast Regional Programs Coordinator, Islamic Relief USA
Donia kindly shared a story with us about an event in Mount Vernon, NY. She noticed a lady in line who was chatting amicably with those around her, and she was holding a CITYPAK. Donia approached her to say hello, and the lady shared that she wasn’t there for herself. She was in fact there for her neighbor, who had a daughter who needed diapers. Her neighbor was working three jobs to try to make ends meet and couldn’t attend the event herself, so the woman had offered to help and pick up the diapers for her.
Bringing together resources and community are two of the most important aspects of Day of Dignity: a platform crucial to starting conversations and creating the ties to be able to help one another. CITYPAK is proud to partner with IRUSA, Day of Dignity, and its network of local organizations to engage with those in need of neighborly assistance.Photo courtesy of Muslim Housing Services