Project Downtown Saint Louis, which is part of the national organization , started in 2013 by giving out fresh meals to the needy and poor families every Saturday in the city of Saint Louis. Along with giving out fresh meals, Project Downtown Saint Louis realized there is a need for school supplies as well. Since the beginning, PDSTL started giving out 100s of backpacks with supplies to needy families and kids. This year, 2017, was a little different for Project Downtown Saint Louis because the Florissant and Ferguson School district reached out to them and asked us if they could provide 1000 backpacks to the kids. Since the demand was very high, Project Downtown Saint Louis denied the request and offered to provide 350 backpacks this year. On august 5th, 2017, Project Downtown Saint Louis and ICNA Relief USA partnered and provided 350 backpacks to the Florissant and Ferguson School District. It was one of the most heart touching moment to see kids lined up to claim their free backpacks from Project Downtown Saint Louis. All of the backpacks were gone within 30 minutes. Every kid looked back at Project Downtown Saint Louis board members and gave them a huge smile and said THANK YOU so much for helping us out. A lot of the parents personally came up to the PDSTL board members and thanked them by giving them hugs.
We do want to take a moment to recognize the Islamic Foundation of greater Saint Louis, Muslim Youth of Saint Louis, ICNA Relief - Saint Louis, Salam Market and Upper Trends for sponsoring this event. Huge THANKS goes out these organizations and business for helping out. Our goal is to give out 1000 backpacks next year to the Florssant and Ferguson School District, God willingly.
When I started Project Downtown Saint Louis (PDSTL.ORG) with my friends, I got asked the same question so many times from so many different people. "Brother, it's just one plate of meal, once a week. Is it even helping the community?" It's been over 3 years since we started Project Downtown Saint Louis and I have finally found the answer to that question. I started asking our guests, who we serve weekly, is our organization (PDSTL), making any impacts on your life?"
One of the regular guests that comes every week replied, "When I first heard about you guys, I was afraid to come get free food because I'm an alcoholic homeless man who sleeps under a bridge. I was afraid you wouldn't give me food and possibly judge me but I still showed up because I was very hungry. You guys greeted me with me a smile and made feel like a human. Right then and there I felt very sorry for myself because I'm a grown ass man who's drunk standing in front of you - not a good role model. I started coming to you regularly. Along with food, you guys gave me clothes, bed sheets, shoes, socks and coats for winter. It's been 2 years since I have been coming to you for a plate of food and today I'm happy to say that I’m not homeless nor an alcoholic. I changed my life after I met you guys and you, Abbas, became my role model and I had to change myself. I live in an apartment now and I couldn't thank you enough."
Those who still have a doubt; a plate of a meal is an invitation to hope and betterment. Today we have more than 20 Project Downtown chapters across United States that are passing out a plate of a meal every week. Yes, a plate of a meal does make a difference and we're going to continue to change many lives....one plate at a time.
Written by PDSTL board Members.