Helping Hand’s Worldwide Orphan Aid Fundraising Dinner in Moreno Valley a Big Hit
By Fatima Farooki
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
A full house was the scene in Moreno Valley on Saturday, February 9 th, for the Worldwide Orphan Aid Fundraising Dinner organized by Helping Hand for Relief and Development ( www.hhrd.org ). The purpose of the event was to raise funds for Muslim orphans around the world. Helping Hand currently supports over 5,000 orphans across the world and is active in countries such as Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Burma, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya, Haiti, Indonesia, Kashmir, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and many more.
The event was held at the Moreno Valley Banquet Hall/Universal Strike Bowling Alley. The venue was a unique one offering something for everyone: a stylish banquet hall for dining, a fun kids arcade area with many games and a bounce house, a full bowling alley, and a wide variety of business vendors. The MC, Hafiz Saheb Ashrafi, maintained a smooth flow throughout the program and started the evening proceedings with beautiful Qur’an recitation during Isha prayers, Masha‘Allah. The first performance of the night was the Spoken Word artist, Br. Hossein Behizad ( spokenwordz.com ). Hossein’s performance was intelligent yet artistic, as he dynamically engaged the crowd with poems that spotlighted contemporary issues affecting Muslims today. His topics and style resonated very well with the crowd.
Br. Hossein was followed by Mayor Marcello Co of Moreno Valley who delivered an inspiring brief speech about his personal diverse background (he is Chinese, Hawaiian, and Spanish), his goals of unity between communities, and the significance of working to eliminate poverty.
Next was the keynote speaker, Shaykh Hasan Radi, Imam of Masjid Al Rahma in Moreno Valley and Principal of ICC Community School. Sh. Hasan did not disappoint, as he softened the hearts of the audience with a motivational speech that emphasized the importance and benefit of such events and Islam’s emphasis on giving.
Flying in from New Jersey, Qari Qasim Mazhar of Young Muslims fueled the fundraising portion of the program. His calm yet focused demeanor made it a unique fundraising experience. People were moved to support Muslim orphans in need. This maintained the enjoyable atmosphere of the night and provided a nice transition into the final segment of the program.
The event’s closing act was none other than the world famous Muslim comedian, Omar Regan. Regan’s performance was simply superb as his hilarious set caused the entire banquet hall to fill up with laughter again and again. The diverse audience made up of people from different age groups, backgrounds, and ethnicities seemed to enjoy his performance from beginning to end.
Dinner followed the speakers and performers and it was just as outstanding as they were. A delicious Mediterranean buffet was served and it was a meal to remember, Masha’Allah! During the dinner, guests were socializing and visiting the various vendors at the event. The addition of vendors was a nice touch and the types of vendors included Islamic financial institutions, clothing and jewelry booths, and Islamic art and gifts.
You’d think the night would end there, but the fun was not done! After the dinner portion all the guests were invited to go bowling at a discounted rate in the fully featured bowling alley right outside the Banquet Hall. Many guests took advantage of the offer and had a great time bowling after the event. All in all, it was the most unique and enjoyable fundraiser I have ever been to, Masha’Allah. The program and entertainment was amazing, the house was packed, and most importantly it was a great success as support for 100 orphans was raised for our dear orphan brothers and sisters throughout the world, Alhamdulillah! We are thankful to all those in the community who helped to promote this event. I am looking forward to Helping Hand’s next fundraiser, Insha’Allah and pray that Allah (SWT) blesses their efforts and the noble relief and development work they do.