The Ohio State Project Downtown
What You’re Doing (My Story)
Weekly, students gather for Project Downtown to make bagged lunches for the homeless in Central Columbus. The lunches include bananas, turkey sandwiches, granola bars, and informational pamphlets on popular topics like “Jesus’ (Peace Be Upon Him) Status in Islam” and “Women in Islam.” We prepare the food an hour before we distribute it at a local church. Sometimes, the only meal the homeless will eat all Sunday is the packed lunch they received from the MSA. We also represent, socialize, and serve a hot meal to the recipients at the Church. Often times, we are the only Muslims that the homeless have ever interacted with.
Why it Matters (The Impact)
Allah says in the Qur’an while describing the righteous people: “And they are those who give food – in spite of their own need , to the needy, and the orphan, and the captive, [saying in their hearts],’We only feed you for the sake of God, and we desire nothing in return from you, not even a word of thanks’’” (76:8-9).
Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
Alhamdulilah, every year we are blessed with more Muslim students at Ohio State who are passionate about helping others, but we need your help to continue the legacy of service left by previous students. Since we are all volunteers, we have no overhead, and all of the money that you donate goes directly to purchasing food.
Giving to the poor and the needy is an act of charity and worship that is mentioned as a trait of a righteous believer multiple times in the Quran and was something the Prophet(S) would do constantly. A person who enjoys the blessings that Allah has bestowed them with without having any fear of facing poverty and hunger, and yet, does not do anything to help those who are less fortunate is truly an arrogant person. Allah mentions in the Quran that when the people of Hell are asked what brought them there, one of the reasons is “’Nor did we feed the needy’” (74:44).
Project Downtown provides an opportunity for anyone to give money purely for the sake of providing a meal for a homeless neighbor. It allows for anyone who is willing to come and directly prepare and deliver those meals to those who need them. And it allows for both those who donate their wealth or their time to fulfill a right that their needy neighbors have on them and to become closer to Allah and his Messenger(S).
Project Downtown has been happening every year since 2011 at The Ohio State University during both Autumn and Spring Semesters. In total, we distribute food on 28 Sundays throughout the school year! That’s every single week except holidays like Thanksgiving, Winter Break, and Spring Break.
We buy all the supplies and ingredients from Kroger’s right before making the sandwiches and assembling the sack lunches. Depending on the week’s sales and whether we have any left over supplies, the cost ranges between $90-$110 every week.