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Published: Saturday, 6/9/2007

Interfaith effort boosts awareness of hunger

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

Representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Islam, and Christianity - are cooking up a plan to alleviate hunger in northwest Ohio.

An interfaith program titled "The Face of Hunger Will Surprise You," to be held Thursday night at Toledo's St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, seeks to boost awareness of hunger in the local community as well as raise money and bring in food donations for the cause.

Charlotte Boyd, administrative coordinator at St. Martin de Porres, said the central city church has seen a growing demand for meals and groceries lately at its food bank and Claver House soup kitchen.

"More and more families are needing assistance with food," Ms. Boyd said. "When I come into work here in the morning, I see guys waiting to go into the Claver House or they have already eaten and it's so humbling. But for the good grace of God, there go I. Each and every one of us could be one paycheck away from being hungry and homeless."

A local Muslim group raised $1,700 to buy more than 400 pounds of meat that it donated to the Northwest Ohio Food Bank.

"God and the Qur'an say that there is no distinction between a hungry Muslim and a hungry non-Muslim," said Hassan HassabElnaby, director of the Muslim American Society's Toledo chapter.

"It is our responsibility as a Muslim, as a citizen, as a member of this community to help regardless of any other consideration - race, religion, whatever," he said.

The Northwest Ohio Food Bank provides supplies to a network of 308 agencies in eight counties, according to Holly Muraco. The food bank has distributed more than 63 million pounds of food in its 22 years of existence, she added.

Last year's interfaith service was held at Rosary Cathedral and the second annual program, at St. Martin de Porres, is scheduled to loosely coincide with the national Hunger Awareness Day, observed Tuesday.

The Toledo interfaith service will include music, liturgical dance, a procession, readings from holy texts of the three faiths, and a talk on poverty and hunger issues by Deacon John Algee, pastoral leader of St. Martin de Porres.

Also participating will be Irina Zaurov of the United Jewish Council of Greater Toledo; the Rev. Chester Trail, pastor of Grace Temple Church of God in Christ; the Grace Temple Choir; a mime and dance troupe from Friendship Baptist Church; Women of Grace dance troupe from St. Martin de Porres; Mohammed Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo; the Rev. Carolyn Eyre of Bible Temple Worship Center, and Rabbi Barry Leff of Congregation B'nai Israel.

The Second Annual Interfaith Service: "The Face of Hunger Will Surprise You," will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, 1119 West Bancroft St. Admission is free; nonperishable food donations will be accepted at the door.



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