Many of you would love to start a food drive of your own. It is basically a spiritual act. I heard a beautiful talk by an Alim who said that giving food is Islam. How beautiful! It is. Because you are offering blessings to others. This act is for Allah’s sake, alone.
However, in order to do it on a daily basis, you need some tips which I’m sharing here.
You’ve got to be highly motivated for it. Naturally, it isn’t easy. I’ve faced a lot of ‘shame on you’, and other such remarks. You go on doing what you need to do. I don’t mind it, because they are being concerned about how the receivers will feel about being photographed or filmed. Note, it isn’t photographing of all, just a few. It is to share with my donor to let them know that every penny of what they have sent has been given.
Especially for them to see how deserving these people are.
Kindly note that they never asked for it. We are offering them. They are not professional beggars (except for a very few of them.) We give with respect.
You are the first one to get blessed:
There is great peace in this activity. No matter what I’ve faced in my personal life, just sharing some food with an unfortunate person, just melts all the stress from my own life. It is magic. Their smiles cure me of all my ‘low’ feelings.
People say I’m a strong person, this is what makes me strong.
The lock down, the Corona Virus and the breakdown of all institutions and businesses haven’t affected me at all. I have been too busy with this food drive. I’ve had no time to get ‘depressed, suppressed or oppressed’! 😉
Yes, the thought did come then, ‘What if my own resources also dwindle? What then?’ But I’ve learnt that when you do something for God’s sake, He kind of takes over all your worries. But for that, you’ve got to show how passionate you are about this.
Tips for a food drive:
Start at a small scale. Keep growing and learning. On a daily, weekly or monthly basis I’ve fed one or two persons three meals a day, as sadqa for my husband, when he passed away. (Though I was flat broke at that time!) But somehow, I found, this act gave me solace during a bleak time of my life.
We started this food drive with feeding of twenty to twenty five persons.
Keep it quick and effective:
No crowding can take place, when you are handing a box of food to one or two persons and drive on. (So, you need one person to do the driving, while the other distributes.) You can do it too, but it can become difficult. I’ve done it alone too, but that is just for ten to fifty persons at the most.)
Take catering company’s help:
When you are distributing around one to three hundred boxes, on a daily basis, it is best to ask the catering company to do it for you. They are obliging, knowing it is for a good cause. Also, it is good business for them.
- Do it with respect.
- Be fair and just.
- Some folks want to take more boxes, depriving others.
- Watch out for those who have a ‘partner’, who keeps returning for more, thus hoarding the food for one family alone.
Give nourishing meals:
The best thing about these boxes of food is that these are simple meals to be taken at once. So, these cannot be sold off, as in the case of rations. Have a variety of food within the budget and capabilities.
Charity work motivates the beneficiaries:
A Heartwarming story:
One person who was affected by the Covid19 situation, Majid, a tailor by profession. The first few months, the shop was closed, due to lock down. Then when the soft opening began, the cloth shops weren’t opened. So, he spent the day waiting, and no customer came. So, he started a taxi business. Even that didn’t work, as very few people took taxis.
All this time, he benefited from our food drive. He realized first-hand how much he and his family benefited from it. Once he was able to cope, he and his wife have offered to cook and distribute for me. So, I have opted to distribute food to the nearby sector, D-12 too.
Distribute food where most needed:
I’ve usually followed them in my car during the distribution. I can see how much is needed, how many more persons are left in need. Yes, it is heart breaking, that we cannot possibly feed all. Yet, I do self-talk and feel happy that at least we made a difference to the ones we could feed. Perhaps tomorrow, then, we can have more food made the next day.
- Check that it is being distributed fairly.
- Keep about ten or fifteen boxes of food, in your car, so if you see someone was missed out, you can beckon that person and give her or him.
- Also, you can easily point out those, who are trying to trick your distributers.
- Each day is a new learning experience.
Security and safety.
Corona virus and Covid19:
We all know the safety measures of distancing. So, make the caterers wear gloves and masks. Keep plenty of it. Have sanitizers for them too. Make them aware that if there is any crowding just drive off. Return to that place afterwards and give, if they have realized and are sitting apart from each other.
This is vital. If there is one bad incident, the whole charity work will get into jeopardy. So, be clear about it. Sometimes, there are children who just cling to the van. Some hang on to it, when it drives off! So, try to avoid that situation. Also, these kids like eight and ten from one family. They can take most of the boxes, by confusing the distributers.
Basically, when one sees such a situation one learns to avoid it. This gives out a lesson to the receivers to behave next time, or they won’t get it.
At first, they learnt fast, and would sit six feet apart, on the road sides. But soon word travelled and totally unruly groups of people came from surrounding areas too. Finally, things have improved. Yet, each day is different and one has to be alert.
There is no point in putting your distributers and the receivers in danger of getting the Covid19 or getting injured.
At the same time, check quality of food to make sure it isn’t substandard in any way. We are doing this to help protect our receivers and build their resistance from Covid19.
You can see here, that it isn’t possible to observe complete observation of the rules. But if it is successfully done for 80% of the time, it is fine. Alhamdolillah, we have held 122 food drives to date, and these have been safe and successful. May Allah protect all in future too.
These have to be sound, or one cannot sustain it. One thing is clear, it is only possible with funding. That is only possible if your donors are 100% sure that you will deliver in a transparent manner.
That is what I do. I share the bills in my stories, the food and the distribution. I write in my account file with the name of the donor, and I give the same way too. It is intricate and deep accounting, but worth it. Like this I know exactly whose has been given, and whose is still pending.
I don’t know if it is right to mention it, but this year alone I’ve managed charity work worth over two and a half million rupees, already!
I manage the cash myself. As I cannot afford for any risk of misappropriation of my donor’s cash. So far so good. Yet it is very tough. Previously, it would take just a few minutes daily. Now, it takes most of the day, as the donations come randomly .
Naseeb of receivers:
I look in wonder at the people who receive the food. It is purely their naseeb nothing else! It is something between them and their Allah. (You my donor, and I are the tools. That’s all.) Alhamdolillah!
Give donations yourself:
Of course, you have to be clear about pitching in when there isn’t any donation, (which is very rare in my case.) However, you have your own fund for it. My own family is eager to pitch in, just as I am. In fact, I’ve had to stop my donors many times, as I wanted to give the previous ones first! Subhan Allah!
Perhaps, this is why Allah blessed our Pakistan with a minimum of deaths due to Covid19. So much charity was given that I could barely manage. This was done throughout the country. Subhan Allah.
Stay blessed, stay protected. 😊
Note: Check out my IGTV video about how to do a food drive, it was made in the earlier days, when I personally did it.