“When we found out (the event) would not be feasible or possible this year, we thought, ‘Why don’t we share food with people who are suffering this year?’” says LISSN member Wahhab Khandker. “On this holiday, no one will go hungry.”
WAFER, Khandker says, has a mission much like that of LISSN: practicing kindness, compassion and helping others, and LISSN member Daoud Jandal says, “This is our community, these are our people, this is our home. It was a no-brainer to donate to the people here.”
Franciscan Sister and LISSN member Sr. Laura Nettles says while there is a often coverage of philanthropy by area churches and entities, “We don’t focus a lot on the giving of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslim community is incredibly generous and one of the hallmarks of Islam is to give. (Sharing about the donation) helps combat the anti-Muslim rhetoric that is out there.”
The local Muslim community is small — Khandker estimates about 75 individuals — but they are profound contributors, working as physicians, educators, engineers and business owners, Nettles says.
Khandker, himself a retired UW-La Crosse professor, has lived in the La Crosse area for nearly four decades, and his children and grandchildren were born and raised here.
It is crucial for residents to connect with people outside their faiths to gain an understanding and build a connection, Khandker says, reiterating the Muslims, or those of any ethnic group, should not be feared due to their skin color, religion or culture.