A Knoxville native’s Muslim nonprofit has started a crowdfunding campaign, which raised over $22,000 in less than two days for families affected by the government shutdown.
CelebrateMercy, founded by Knoxville native and University of Tennessee, Knoxville graduate Tarek El-Messidi, is a nonprofit that teaches about the Prophet Mohammed through campaigns, social media, webinars and conferences. Along with the nonprofit charity Penny Appeal USA, they launched the crowdfunding campaign for federal workers who have not been paid during the shutdown, called “Muslims Unite to Provide Shutdown Relief.”
The campaign went up Sunday afternoon on the LaunchGood website, a crowdfunding website specifically for campaigns run by Muslims, and raised over $10,000 within the first 10 hours.
El-Messidi, who grew up in Knoxville and currently lives in Chicago, said he was inspired to start the campaign after “watching the news and seeing so many sad stories of federal workers and federal contractors who were really distressed about not getting paid.”
“Just the sheer number of people who are not getting paid really made me think that the Muslim community should be doing its part,” El-Messidi said.
The original goal for the campaign was to raise $20,000, which El-Messidi said was met on Monday. The goal was then increased to $30,000. El-Messidi said they will “keep raising the (fundraising) goal if we keep meeting it.”
El-Messidi said he was inspired by two teachings from Mohammed and the Muslim faith. One says that “a worker should be paid for his work before his sweat dries,” and another says that “we are to have mercy on people on earth, and the One in Heaven will have mercy on you,” El-Messidi said.
“This is a way to have mercy on people who are going through a tough time and show kindness to them,” El-Messidi said.
The LaunchGood page also contains resources for families who have been impacted by the shutdown, with information from across the country where Muslim-led organizations and businesses are providing things like free meals, food baskets or loans.