Hawzah News Agency (North Carolina, US) – Muslims, Christians, and Jews across North Carolina gathered at the Islamic Association of Raleigh on Saturday, March 2, to pack thousands of pounds of donated food in the fifth anniversary of the three Muslim students who were killed in 2015.
“All over the USA there was a large, national urge to do something to honor my brother Deah Barakat in addition to Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha,” said Farris Barakat.
“An urge of that was the first Interfaith Food Drive which was held a month after the attack and collected enough to provide 21,000 meals to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.”
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were fatally shot Feb. 10, 2015, at the couple’s condominium in Chapel Hill.
Saturday’s food drive brought in enough donations for 67,000 meals, breaking last year’s record by more than 10,000.
“The sense of unity and the urgency to want to act that came in the aftermath of the Chapel Hill shootings brought a lot of people together and allowed us to impact many lives. This was one of the ways that we’ve been able to continue to do that,” Farris said.
The latest food drive was hosted by the Light House Project, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Muslim youth throughout the Triangle region, in collaboration with the North Carolina State College of Design and the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina.
Zainab Baloch, a childhood friend of the slain students, looks at the charity event as a way to continue their legacy rather than simply remember them; “we choose to express our pain through service.”
Sorrowfully, Chris Hicks, a neighbor of Deah, is accused of the killing but the case hasn’t yet gone to trial.
“The next person who thinks about doing something like this should know punishment awaits them,” Farris expressed in grief.
“Deah was studying at the UNC School of Dentistry, where his wife Yusor was about to start classes. Yusor’s sister Razan studied at the College of Design. But none of them let their busy schedules get in the way of intentionally serving the Triangle community,” said Shadi Sadi, a friend to all three.
Over the past years, the family has been working to keep the victims’ legacy alive.
Since their deaths, the Our Three Winners Foundation was established by family members of the victims.
It aims to end hate crimes “through a preventive, rather than reactive approach.”
Also in the wake of their deaths, Deah’s brother Farris Barakat opened a youth group home in downtown Raleigh called “The Light House Project.”
The Light House Project looks to end Islamaphobia and promote understanding.