A multi-faith group showed on Tuesday that regardless of how things stand in the world today, groups with differing viewpoints can still unite for a common goal.
As part of the presentations made to the Manteca Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday night, a group led by Manteca Islamic Center Imam Dr. Mohammad El Farra announced that they have donated $5,000 worth of gift cards to the district’s health services department to help provide for underprivileged children.
El Farra was joined by pastors from Manteca Presbyterian Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in disclosing how in a special ceremony earlier in the day the group, which fundraised through their respective congregations, donated the Burlington Coat Factory gift cards to help provide for needy children who are represented by the department that tracks homelessness and poverty among students.
“This shows that there can be cooperation among us to reach out and care for the poorest among us,” El Farra said.
According to thresholds set last year by the district, as many as 700 students are classified as “homeless” – without having a constant and permanent residence. Nearly 70 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch fees based on guidelines set forth by the federal government. In response to that administrators implemented a before-lunch breakfast program to cater to that growing need.
According to El Farra, the “interfaith” cooperation wasn’t just a sign that people from different backgrounds can work together, but a targeted way of making sure that the poorest students still get a chance at an education.
Last year the Manteca Islamic Center – which opened in 2013 – was targeted by anti-Islamic vandals that painted hate messages on the sign that greets all visitors and on the ground near the building’s Union Road entrance. It was the second time that it had been spray-painted with an anti-Muslim message since it opened in 2013. They also left strips of raw bacon – something that would be considered offensive to practitioners of the religion.