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While fasting for Ramadan, Muslim St. Louisans prepare food at local homeless shelter

Because Islam puts a special focus on charity during the holy month of Ramadan, many Muslims St. Louisans are taking extra time to serve others.

This year, Ramadan began May 27 and ends June 25.

Sunday a couple dozen people from a nonprofit organization called RukaNade served lunch at the Gateway 180 homeless shelter in St. Louis’ Carr Square neighborhood.

As the lunch hour approached, RukaNade founder Nermana Huskic organized groups to wipe down tables and set out food. Huskic moved to St. Louis as a Bosnian refugee; RukaNade means hands of hope in Bosnian. About half the Muslims in St. Louis are Bosnian.

Huskic is fasting this Ramadan from sun up to sun down. She said it’s a time to focus on her blessings.

“For us, you know, at 8:30 or 8:29, we can have that food on the table. So you know, okay, I’m just fasting for maybe 16 hours. But some people might not have food at night,” said Huskic.

Huskic said RukaNade serves a meal at Gateway 180 once a month, and also serves food to people experiencing homelessness at other locations. This is the second time during Ramadan RukaNade has served a meal at the shelter.

“During Ramadan, your good deeds are multiplied up to like 70,000. So, like, you do one good deed it’s multiplied. So you want to do even more,” Huskic said. “During that time, you’re more spiritual. Even those who, let’s say, don’t practice their religion throughout the whole year.”

This time RukaNade brought pizza, watermelon, chips and cupcakes for the women and children staying at the shelter.

Jacqueline Neal, who’s lived at the shelter for about two months, was one of the first in line for lunch.

She said a lot of different groups bring meals to serve to her and Gateway 180’s other residents.

“I think it’s cool because it’s showing that they’re concerned about the homeless people at Gateway 180,” said Neal. “They’re taking their time out to come out and bring us food, and serve us food. Something that they don’t have to do. They could be doing other things, but God put it in their heart to do that.”

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille