Hundreds of people crowded into the Marlborough Park community Centre on Sunday to fill their cars with donated food and clothing.
“We get donations from the community, they bring in clothes. And we also get items from the store: salt, sugar, flour - what we call the basic items,” explained Toks Bakinson with the Muslim Families Network Society.
The MFSN puts on the event several times a year, saying there is a need among the Muslim community to access Halal food and basic household items, especially by people who’ve just moved to Canada
“I would say 75 percent are new Canadians," Toks said. “We also have people who are low income. Everyone is welcome.”
Bakinson says in order to receive the goods, people need to provide bank statements showing they are eligible.
Adaeze Okonkow just moved to Calgary from Nigeria two weeks ago with her husband and young son.
“I came here for a better life, and better opportunities for me and my kids,” she said.
Okonkow says not only did she get much-needed groceries at the event, but also met many new people, including other recent immigrants undergoing similar changes in their lives.
Up to 500 families - often very large ones - turn up for these events, but organizers say they try to do more than just feed and clothe the guests.
“We refer to them organizations who can help them teach them how to get a job how to save and do other things,“ said Bakinson.
According to the Muslim Families Network Society, it helped 7,500 people through events like this in 2018. The group expects to reach at least that many this year as well.