Muslim residents volunteer in Detroit to let others have holidays off

DETROIT – When one thinks of Christmas, many people think of gifts, but it's important to remember it's more important to give during the holidays.

One group in Corktown on Monday truly embraced the spirit of giving by spending their Christmas Eve giving a helping hand to those in need.

Volunteers served up meals at the soup kitchen inside St. Peter's Episcopal Church. On Christmas Eve, many of the usual volunteers have other obligations, which is why Muslim volunteers from Mercy-USA for Aid and Development stepped up to lend a hand.

"We're alleviating volunteers who would normally like to celebrate the holidays," said Kayla Botelho. 

They helped out by distributing canned goods and preparing and serving a meal to about 200 people.

"Well, there was soup, fruit, doughnuts, coffee," said Hibah Naseer. "All of the food that makes you feel good."

It wasn't just those in need who left feeling good; Naseer left feeling good as well.

"I've actually never been to a church," Naseer said. "I've wanted to come to a church for a long time. So this is my first time at a church, and it was really rewarding seeing people with other faiths coming together for a common cause."

While Muslims may not celebrate Christmas, Botelho said this is a time of year for everyone to give back, no matter your religion.

"This is one way that a lot of Muslims express their holiday spirit is through service projects," Botelho said. "A huge part of our faith is giving back in charitable efforts."

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