Dar-us-Salaam established its social services department, Ansaarul Birr, Arabic for supporters of righteousness, several years ago. Within the past year, the social services department began working to ramp up its activity around the community. Ansaarul Birr is dedicated to supporting community members during times of need by providing services and products like groceries, clothing, and meals. The department launches several projects on a regular basis and aims to increase their funding so they can offer more free services to the community.
Ansaarul Birr’s volunteers consist of students, staff, and community members. Once a month, the volunteers serve breakfast and dinner at the Rockville Women’s Interfaith Shelter and the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless. They also set up other activities at these shelters like henna by talented local artists and self-defense seminars by professional blackbelts from Aqabah Karate.
Another service the department provides once a month is free groceries. Depending on how many people request groceries through the Zakat department, Ansaarul Birr prepares bags of groceries that they dole out to these community members. Occasionally, Ansaarul Birr will also offer grocery bags to the families living in the houses near Al-Huda School–regardless of whether or not they are Dar-us-Salaam community members. “A lot of the food we bring from businesses like MOM’s will be out-of-date and expired so this is a good thing for the environment. Our food production system is really out of order in terms of the amount of food we’re wasting, and this is a good example of a local project that reduces food waste,” said a neighbor who received grocery bags.
Every three months, Ansaarul Birr runs a clothes drive. Community members drop off their new or gently used clothes at the school, and on the day of the drive, anyone can come and take as many clothes as they need. After the drive, if there are any leftover clothes, Ansaarul Birr sells them to fund their other community service projects.
Another project that Ansaarul Birr runs every three months is the Elderberries Program. The department organizes a special get-together for the elders of the community ages 50+ where they can socialize, eat, and receive small gifts.
Some families from Dar-us-Salaam regularly donate meat to Ansaarul Birr every month. This meat is handed out with the grocery bags or to families in need that specifically request the meat through the Zakat Department. One of the more frequent services they provide is handing out perishable foods once a week. After collecting perishables through food drives and donations, Ansaarul Birr distributes them to the general public of Dar-us-Salaam and saves the leftovers for the next week. The department also set up a free health clinic at Al-Huda School where anyone in the community could come in for free-check ups. Specialists in gynecology, geriatrics, and other medical fields offered their expertise as community service to Dar-us-Salaam.
Ansaarul Birr takes time to prepare food for sick community members. They have about thirty sisters working with the department who take turns cooking meals and preparing gift baskets. “We find that by doing these kinds of things, our community is instantly brought closer. We pray for each other and give each other these things to help each other get better,” said a sister who organizes these services.
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