tilmw-2.jpgMIAMI — Acts of charity abound in this special season, including one that observed its seventh year on Dec. 8, as women of various faiths united in support of others in need during the “Shop ’Til You Drop” community service event sponsored by the South Florida chapter of The International League of Muslim Women (TILMW).

Over several months, the Muslim ladies from Masjid Ibrahim and Masjid Al-Ansar on Seventh Avenue in Miami, as well as New Africa of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, along with many of their Christian friends, spent their Saturdays enjoying each other’s company. Meanwhile they were sorting, logging, tagging and otherwise preparing, for the big day, myriad items donated by individuals, businesses and organizations.

Then on Dec. 8 and just in time for the holidays, other women living in homeless shelters, battered women’s houses or in shelters for recovery from addiction, brought to the parking lot of Masjid Ibrahim — or the Abraham Mosque — their league-provided vouchers that let them “purchase” the new and gently used clothing, shoes, jewelry, handbags, scarves, toiletries, books, children’s clothes and other donated items.

Each year about 300 women participate, from such programs as Lotus House, Camillus House, the Salvation Army, Safe Space, Spectrum and Jefferson Reeves House — and are heard expressing deep gratitude as they depart. “Now I’m all set for my job interview on Monday,” said one as she headed down Seventh Avenue.

“Thank y’all so much for doing this,” another woman said, smiling. “I can’t tell you how much it is needed, and appreciated.”

The event is one of innumerable annual community service projects of the league, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1981, and has members in nearly 30 chapters in the U.S. or abroad in places such as Ghana and Senegal.

wA staple activity of many league chapters is an annual “Grandmother–Mother–Daughter Luncheon,” during which members honor pioneering women and outstanding students. Various chapters, including South Florida’s, also conduct annual winter blanket or coat drives for those in need.

Wearing the league’s trademark red-and-white again this year, as they assisted “shoppers” along with other TILMW members and volunteers, were Alia Pasha, who chairs the South Florida chapter’s Social Service Committee, and Aneesha Hanif, president of the chapter that spans Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Keely Gideon-Taylor, a new participant this year, not only donated gift items, but drove from Boynton Beach to help serve the women.

“It’s a blessing for us too,” said Pasha, several of whose Christian friends are regular participants, on behalf of the tired but happy interdenominational volunteers.

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