300 food bags donated to Bear Pantry to celebrate end of Ramadan, Memorial Day

University Village
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The Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi, or MTO, Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism in Berkeley donated 300 bags to the Bear Pantry on May 25 as part of a joint food drive with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín to celebrate the end of Ramadan and Memorial Day.

The food from the drive will help support low-income families with students in college. MTO centers around the world conducted similar food drives to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of reflection and compassion, making it the “right time” to commemorate those who risk their lives on a daily basis to help others, according to Mana Nazeri, spokesperson for MTO’s Berkeley meditation center.

“With the ongoing pandemic, food insecurity is one of several issues our community is facing,” said Michael Sanchez, recreation director of UC Berkeley’s University Village, in an email. “Events and donations, such as MTO’s, go directly to student families in an effort to combat that.”

MTO started initiatives across the globe to help front-line workers and those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has already donated thousands of personal protective equipment items, as well as hundreds of hygiene packages and meals, to various organizations throughout the city. These organizations include the campus University Health Services Tang Center, the city of Berkeley, Berkeley Unified School District and other shelters, hospitals and senior citizen centers.

Many volunteers, who all practiced social distancing, helped pack the food bags and hygiene packets that they later delivered to the Bear Pantry.

“MTO in partnership with the office of Mayor made this event happen,” Nazeri said in an email. “In addition to providing food, each donated bag contained information about MTO TAMRRKOZ APP which provides free live mediation sessions through Instagram and Facebook several times a day in 9 languages.”

According to Sanchez, MTO initiated the offer to collect and donate food to the Bear Pantry for students and students’ families in need.

Although there are no plans for this food drive to become annual, Sanchez said University Village is grateful for MTO’s efforts to help the community during these challenging times, and hopes to partner with MTO again in the future.

“On Memorial Day, we commemorate those who risk their lives everyday to help others such as all the healthcare workers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19,” Nazeri said in the email. “Marking the end of Ramadan, the month of reflection, discipline and compassion was the right time to celebrate our community and neighbors.”

Contact Gigi Nibbelink at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @giginibbelink.