Florida International University Chooses Charity: Project Downtown

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Above, students clean empty boxes after the meal.

After a whole semester of tabling and politicking about the flaws of government and the virtues of voluntary action, we decided to join in on Choose Charity and voluntarily give back to our community. Despite attempting to commit to a few charities that eventually fell through, we joined in on a charity event that we’re damned proud exists in our community: Project Downtown.

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Above, Project Downtown also offers free clothing to the homeless in the winter.

Project Downtown had been around long before YAL @ FIU joined in. It was set up seven years ago by students perturbed by the conditions of the homeless in downtown Miami. Since then, they have been providing food to the homeless in downtown Miami every Friday night.

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When we heard from a friend that this was going on, we decided it was something we needed to jump into. We got into contact with those in charge of the project and expressed our interest. So on the 7th of December, our YAL chapter organized a group of members and headed out to downtown Miami to help feed the homeless. When we got there, we were greeted by members of both The Muslim Student Association at FIU and Muslim Students of University of Miami, who carry a substantial bulk of the Miami chapter of Project Downtown. 

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Above, students deliver food.

The event was a big success! We could really sense the community relationship among the homeless and the participants. Towards the end of the night, Project Downtown handed out awards for a basketball tournament that they held weeks back, and gave thanks to those who volunteered extra time to prepare the pasta and garlic bread being distributed. More importantly, no one was forced to be there—and they were probably doing more good than any centrally planned initiative could.  We pinned names and stories to the faces that we helped, and did so efficiently and compassionately.

While officially YAL’s participation was scheduled for just one evening, we’ve already gotten requests by our members to return and continue participating.  Project Downtown started in Miami, but has expanded to metro areas across the United States. If you would like to find out about a Project Downtown initiative near you, please visit www.projectdowntown.org.

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