BROOKLYN – Young people have been stepping up and volunteering amid the coronavirus pandemic for weeks now. Last week, the City Line Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (COPCP) partnered up with the Islamic Society and Muslim Women’s Educational Initiative at Brooklyn College (ISO/MWEI) to help create 400 pantry boxes for those in need.
COPCP had been working to help the vulnerable since its inception a few months ago. Now, its volunteers are giving out free masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and food to anyone who needs it, partnering up with many different organizations to make it possible. They have given out over 2,000 masks and 8,000 gloves to hospitals, cops, firefighters, and other essential workers. Last week, ISO President Bilal Khan, 20, reached out to COPCP. The Flatbush resident saw what they were doing and wanted to get involved in helping those who needed it the most.
“ISO decided to partner up with COPCP because we saw the beauty of the work they’re doing; they’re helping out everyone in the community regardless of race, religion or gender,” Khan told Bklyner. “They’re working hard to take care of the community. They’re heroes, along with all other essential workers and healthcare providers. ISO couldn’t give up the chance to be part of this amazing legacy.”
Khan worked with his campus club to raise money to make the pantry boxes, which are comprised of vegetables, grains, water, snacks, toiletries, Gatorade, and other necessities. Then, volunteers at COPCP delivered them to people who needed them. Currently, there are about 20 volunteers. They are all required to wear masks, use hand sanitizers, and are urged to constantly wash their hands.
“It is very crucial for COPCP, myself, and every volunteer to give to those in need. When we started COPCP, our vision was– and is– to help the community,” Mohammad Khan, 20, the Executive Director at COPCP told Bklyner. “In this time of chaos, the community is in need. This is the time we show the community we are all united as one and will be there for each other.”
Mohammad Khan says COPCP has been receiving many calls and emails from families in need with no food and necessities. And these are the houses they deliver to. Currently, there is not a specific day in which the boxes are delivered. Boxes are made and delivered throughout the week on a large scale. Most of the boxes are delivered in Queens and in East NY and Brownsville.
For Bilal Khan, working to help the vulnerable in a time like this is extremely important.
“It’s important for me to personally do this because seeing the smile on someone’s face after they receive help is priceless and heartwarming. I love giving back to the community, especially when it comes to feeding people,” he said. “Nobody should question where their next meal will come from. Food is a right that nobody should be deprived of. In the Islamic tradition, when Prophet Muhammad first migrated to Madinah, he told the people ‘Spread peace and feed the people.’ I’m just trying to follow the prophetic way and help.”
Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson told Bklyner she is proud of her students stepping up at a time where it’s needed the most.
“In this time of incredible need, it is heartwarming to see our students answer the call,” Anderson said. “We are extremely proud of how our Muslim students contribute to the college and the community on a regular basis, but this was extraordinary.”
Currently, these young volunteers have made and delivered over 400 boxes of food in just a short period of time. And they aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon.
“The coronavirus has deeply affected our communities. We’re all hurting. In times like this, reaching out to family and friends has become more important than ever,” Bilal Khan said. “Call them up, ask how they’re doing, and show em’ some love. We can get through this together, one day at a time.”
If you would like to volunteer, or if you are in need of food and supplies, reach out to COPCP or ISO on Facebook or reach them at 347-283-3058.