In the wake of the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this Saturday that left 11 people dead, two Muslim-American groups banded together to raise funds for the victims — a campaign that reached its goal of $150,000 in just 48 hours. Now, the fund drive has far exceeded that goal, currently standing at over $200,000 as of this writing. According to reports, the organizers of the fund drive say they plan to cover the funeral costs of all the victims.
The fundraiser was launched on the site LaunchGood and is a joint effort by the groups Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change.
“Initially it was intended to be a gesture of solidarity,” said MPower Change co-founder Linda Sarsour. “We wanted to give more than just ‘thoughts and prayers.'”
As the response to the fundraising effort grew, the organizers had to keep raising the limit.
“Right now, because in Jewish tradition funerals happen right away, the priority is to help with funeral expenses. The group hopes to cover the entirety of all funeral expenses for each of the victims,” Celebrate Mercy founder Tarek El-Messidi said.
According to 10TV.com, the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh is coordinating with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Tree of Life Synagogue, and local funeral homes to figure out how to distribute the funds.
“Pittsburgh is such a tight knit community and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh are true friends of the Jewish community here,” Josh Sayles, director of the Jewish Federation’s community relations council, told 1oTV. “They have stepped up for us in countless ways. There’s few things keeping us going right now, but this is at the top of the list.”
LaunchGood, the crowdsourcing site hosting the campaign, is a five-year-old Muslim-centered platform for grassroot fundraising efforts. Unlike similar sites like GoFundMe, LaunchGood does not publish the names of donors or how much they give, reflecting a belief in Islam that “the right hand gives, the left hand doesn’t know,” Sarsour said.
“In Islam, the idea of charity is something to strengthen your relationship with God,” Sarsour said. “It’s supposed to be something that’s secret. You’re not suppose to flaunt it.”
Other fundraising campaigns for victims of the shooting have received overwhelming support. As of this Thursday afternoon, a GoFundMe campaign started by an Iranian immigrant living in D.C. has pulled in well over $1 million thanks to almost 17,000 donors.
Featured image via tolols.org