Muslim, Christian communities work together to support soup kitchen

They don’t know the nationality, race, religion, gender or personal situations of those they’d be helping. It hardly mattered since the goal for three faith-based groups was collaborating to help needy Springfielders.

Members of the Miami Valley Islamic Association teamed with members of Central Christian Church and Nets of Arukah Ministries this week at Masjid Al-Madina Mosque to renew a biennial tradition of creating 500 bags with food and hygiene products to donate to the Springfield Soup Kitchen.

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It’s the third consecutive year the mosque has hosted the effort, and its first with these organizations. The gesture is always appreciated by Fred Stegner, who operates the Soup Kitchen.

“What we’re doing is helping people overcome a hurdle in life,” he said.

Stegner said the Soup Kitchen has seen fewer people recently due to the stronger economy. The hygiene packs especially help in those interviewing for jobs, and hearing of their successes is his reward.

“Even if it’s only one person we’ve helped it’s worth is,” he said.

The Islamic Community is in the middle of Ramadan, a time of fasting and introspection. As one of the religion’s five pillars of faith is helping the poor, this helps meet that obligation.

“Charity never diminishes your wealth,” said Imam Yunus Lasania of Masjid Al-Madina. “The message of Ramadan is simple: connect with your Lord and with humanity. This is a wonderful program to support.”

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This is the second time members of Central Christian and Masjid Al-Madina have interacted recently. The Muslim community attended the church’s Sunday morning service on May 5 in a show of support following the Easter Sunday terrorist violence in Sri Lanka.

Pastor Carl Ruby of Central Christian said he appreciates the friendship and relationship between the two faiths and hopes this is just one of several opportunities to work together.

Around 50 people, including children, helped pack razors, feminine hygiene products, soap, snacks and other items to be donated, working side-by-side Sunday until the 500 packs were collated, boxed and ready to go.

Amy Lauber and husband Tom previously participated in packing supplies for the Soup Kitchen at the mosque with a previous church. They recently began the non-profit Nets of Arukah Ministries and wanted to remain involved in the effort, helping, donating and experiencing the fellowship.

“We fell in love with what they were doing. We feel loved and accepted here,” Amy Lauber said.

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