It was thanksgiving eve, HUNGER VAN was stuck in traffic on Route 1 south on the way to a Hunger Run hosted by Noor-ul-Iman high school students in South Brunswick. Students were anxiously waiting to start the thanksgiving activities by preparing meals for the homeless and hungry, and be thankful for all the worldly things they are blessed with.
Hunger Van pulls in front of the multipurpose room at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, Naushin Tamboo, a teacher and also mother of the senior, Mahira Tmaboo organizer of the event announced, “Guys HUNGER VAN is here let us unload supplies to make meals for the homeless and hungry in our backyard”.
Umair Masood, a senior, gets in the van and starts passing the supplies to the volunteers of Hunger Van Club. After all the supplies were brought into the multipurpose room, volunteers gather in a circle around the coach, Zamir Hassan, to get instruction about the meal preparation.
Before we start, I would like to ask a question, said Mr. Hassan, “What is the legal definition of hunger and a hungry person? And how many Americans are classified hungry by department of agriculture?” After a pin drop silence in room, as the students looked at each other, Mr. Hassan explained. ”In our country, 49 million people live in food insecure households i.e. they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Almost 16 million of these people include young children for whom hunger is a way of life”. As Muslim, we are not supposed to sleep, if our neighbor is hungry.
Mahira Tamboo formed the Hunger Van Club at the school after she attended a similar event at the house of a friend. She said “I wanted, myself and my school mates to fulfill our faith obligation in a fun way, HUNGER VAN hosting gives us a chance to help our needy neighbors and also have fun after a busy school day”. “Organizing this club has taught me much more than I ever imagined. Coming into it, I thought I was merely doing a good deed. Our high school Hunger Van Club is in its second year and I have realized that serving the less fortunate is just one aspect of our club. Awareness is a big part of this initiative, and I hope that over the years, more and more students will become involved. Bringing the Hunger Van Project to my school was personally rewarding in so many ways. It has helped to put my little daily struggles into perspective, and helped me to gain a stronger appreciation for what I have been blessed with. I hope that through their participation in this club, my peers will also come to the same realization that I did. Our hunger Van Club is growing and we plan to have one homeless feeding event every month. Its really fun activity to help us grow”, Said Mahira Tamboo.
SAFA SHAIKH-“Participating in the Hunger Van meal making really put things into perspective for me because it made me realize what the purpose of Thanksgiving is and why I really have to be thankful to God and those who help me in my daily life. Just a few hours before making the meals I was complaining about the traffic that would be there because of thanksgiving, the fact that i was sick and needed rest, and that I should probably go home earlier. After I attended the meal-making session, I realized that it was not so bad because I felt good about doing something for hungry people, who probably are not as fortunate as we are, and also because I got to sleep on the long ride home from school! I am really very grateful that I was able to participate in such a morally fulfilling and fun experience for Thanksgiving!”
ALIA OZAIR- “It’s nice when all of us come together and help the needy. It is important that we take the time to remember that there are people in the world who are not as blessed as we are and that it is our duty to help them. This was a really great experience, and it made me realize that we do not need a whole lot of people to make a difference in the world.”
Azra Baig, a member elect, board of education in South Brunswick, and also trustee at Islamic Society of Central Jersey, who was helping at the event said, “It is important to have the youth, to be aware of the significance of helping the less fortunate which is a value that is taught in all faiths. This event is one of the many ways that the students that attend NUI can help others and is a reminder for all to be always thankful for blessings”
Volunteers prepared in two hours, Honey-B sandwiches and Chickaro salad for 150 people. The meals were distributed by HUNGER VAN to a homeless shelter in New Brunswick and the needy in Newark for a Thanksgiving lunch.