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The Chicago Ridge Public Library is proudly hosting a Ramadan Giving Project through May 3 at the library. Pictured (from left) Chicago Ridge Public Library Director, Dana Wishnick; Youth Services Manager, Irene Ciciora; and staff members, Nancy Dartalib, Salimah Boufath, and Samantha Zimmerman. (Supplied photos)

The Chicago Ridge Public Library is proudly hosting a Ramadan Giving Project through May 3 at the library. Pictured (from left) Chicago Ridge Public Library Director, Dana Wishnick; Youth Services Manager, Irene Ciciora; and staff members, Nancy Dartalib, Salimah Boufath, and Samantha Zimmerman. (Supplied photos)

Chicago Ridge Library celebrates Ramadan with food drive

By Kelly White

Located in a culturally diverse community, the Chicago Ridge Public Library is proud to serve its patrons of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

To support the library values of “all are recognized,” the youth services department has created a large library-wide program that reflects the local community’s diversity. For the first time, staff members are hosting a Ramadan Giving Project, right at the library, 10400 S. Oxford, Chicago Ridge.

“Throughout this past year we have been looking for ways to have large scale displays, like we have with our Christmas Giving Tree, that would recognize our library community’s diverse culture,” Irene Ciciora, Chicago Ridge Public Library’s Youth Services Manager, said.

The Ramadan Giving Project began this month when a large Crescent Moon was placed in the library’s new book area.

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The Chicago Ridge Public Library is hosting a Ramadan Giving Project at the library, 10400 S. Oxford, Chicago Ridge. Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off until May 3.

This is also where the library’s giving tree is placed during the Christmas season. During Christmas, the library collects new hats, scarves, and mittens for the local community that are distributed at the schools. During Ramadan, the library will be collecting non-perishable food that will be distributed locally to people in need.

Food items can be donated directly at the library until May 3.

“Chicago Ridge is a diverse community with a large Muslim community,” Dana Wishnick, Library Director at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “We want to recognize the importance of Ramadan in our community just as we recognize Christmas every year with our giving tree. The library feels it is important to be relevant and welcoming to everyone in our community. We hope all will participate, feel recognized, or see it as an opportunity to learn about a different religion and culture.”

“Everyone will benefit from this project because the more we learn, the more we grow,” Ciciora said. “As a community, we celebrate many different holidays amongst our community members. We can gain a shared appreciation for the holidays celebrated in our community by learning about the different holidays that our neighbors celebrate.”

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection and community.

“We serve a diverse community and we want to make sure that in accordance with our new values – everyone feels welcome, everyone feels recognized, and everyone is served,” Ciciora said. “As a library, I feel like we do a good job of recognizing our diversity with hosting different crafts, programs, and activities, but by having a larger scale display like we do with the tree, but with a crescent moon, we will have an additional opportunity for our community to feel recognized and valued.”

As Ciciora said, one of the library’s strategic priorities is to foster a sense of connection and belonging through sharing the community’s diverse and unique stories, and that is exactly what they are doing.

“The Ramadan Giving Project is a great way for the community of Chicago Ridge to get into the spirit of Ramadan,” Samantha Zimmerman, Youth Services Associate at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “It’s exciting to see the community come together to donate food to those in need.”

Those both working at the library and also celebrating Ramadan said they are beyond grateful for the library’s efforts.

“The Ramadan Giving Project means the world to me,” Nancy Dartalib, Youth Services Associate at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “Growing up, I always felt left out because my religion and culture was never shown in my community. I would always see things about Christmas, Easter, and other big Christian oriented holidays but when it came to Islam and its holidays, it seemed to me as if it was nonexistent. Seeing the Chicago Ridge Public Library incorporating this beautiful Project in the community is so beautiful and heartwarming.”

“This year’s Ramadan Giving Project is a wonderful opportunity to give to others,” Salimah Boufath, Youth Services Associate at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “Ramadan is all about spiritual cleansing and being generous, and doing this project will help promote our blessed holiday and generosity.”

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