San Antonio’s Ismaili community came together Saturday to hold a “Share Your Blessings” COVID-19 recovery drive in conjunction with Compassionate SA and the South Texas Merchants Association.

Over two dozen volunteers, including San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, came out to the Ismaili Jamatkhana located on the North Side of San Antonio between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to help unload donations from vehicles as community members drove through.

With the goal of donating about 15 pallets of food and hygiene products to the San Antonio Food Bank and at least 2,500 masks to the City of San Antonio, San Antonio’s Ismaili community put the event together in two weeks, said volunteer Waheeda Kara.

A sub-sect of Shia Islam, Ismaili’s are a community of ethnically and culturally diverse Muslims who live in over 25 countries around the world, Kara said. San Antonio’s Ismaili community consists of a few thousand members, she added.

Sugarland-resident Irfan Ali, honorary secretary of the Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States, said the event represented a big part of the group’s faith.

“Part of our faith is putting our ethics into action during a crisis, so we wanted to bring together the [San Antonio] community and our resources to make a difference,” Ali said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg bumps elbows with Irfan Ali, honorary secretary of the Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Kara said as a supporter of Compassionate SA, a grassroots interfaith movement to help San Antonio’s most at-risk communities, partnering with them for the event seemed obvious. Kara also invited the Interfaith San Antonio Alliance to participate, with several members coming out to volunteer.

The event was a good chance for members of all faiths to come together to help support San Antonians in need, said ISAA volunteer Wyndee Holbrook. Holbrook said San Antonio Ismailis, and especially Kara, have been a big help in collecting masks for San Antonio’s most at-risk communities, such as the city’s homeless and elderly populations.

Approved food items are piled in large pallets to be donated to the San Antonio Food Bank. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Wearing a Frida Kahlo face mask, Nirenberg said he appreciates the ISAA for its help getting over 1,600 masks out to members of the San Antonio community.

“I wanted to thank the Ismaili community for their efforts to make sure the people of San Antonio are protected,” Nirenberg said.

For San Antonio to slow the spread of coronavirus, members of all faiths have to come together, Holbrook said. She commended Kara on her ability to reach out to members of all local communities.

Kara was happy with the turnout Saturday and said she raised awareness for the event by posting about it on social media, by reaching out to local homeowners associations, and through her connections throughout the city.

“It’s been beautiful to see members of all communities coming together,” she said.

The Ismaili community surpassed its goal and donated more than 20 pallets of food to the SAFB, along with the 2,500 masks to the City, Kara said.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.