Mediterranean Deli, Bakery and Catering hosted a fundraiser on Wednesday for people impacted by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria as the death toll passed 40,000.
The benefit raised over $30,000, all of which went to victims and their families.
Jamil Kadoura, the owner of Med Deli, said that he was seven years old during the Arab-Israeli War and lived in a refugee camp. His inspiration for organizing the benefit comes from the “charity and good organizations” that helped him and his family in times of need.
“I was given a lot when I was a kid, when I was hungry — and it’s time to give back,” Kadoura said.
Med Deli has hosted benefit events for crisis relief in the past, with causes including hurricane victims in Haiti and flood victims in Pakistan in the summer of 2010. Another ticketed event benefitting Syrian refugees raised $26,000 in two hours, according to Kadoura.
However, Kadoura said these events would not be possible without the support of the Chapel Hill community, which he said always shows up when they are needed most.
“I’ve been here 33 years, and I couldn’t be more grateful to anybody more than this community,” he said.
At past fundraising events, there have been more people than the restaurant could handle, so staff decided to offer a limited menu at this event.
Liz Coughlin, Med Deli's catering director, said that the menu included items such as Moroccan chicken, jerk chicken, lamb and beef gyro, a four-item sampler, Greek salad and limited sides. The event was planned entirely last week.
“It all happened fast and quick,” Coughlin said.
Working together to come up with a limited menu, getting everyone on board, reprograming the registers, putting up flyers and posting on social media was “non-stop” in preparation for the event last week, Coughlin said.
Kadoura also said that the restaurant sought donations from Facebook in addition to the profits earned throughout the day.
Both Kadoura and Coughlin said the lunch rush was extra busy, and that they expected dinner to bring in many customers as well.
Coughlin said that, even though she normally only works in the back, due to the increase in traffic she had to work the front registers alongside regular register staff.
“I didn’t realize this was going to happen, but so many people on top of their meals are making just so many donations, it’s just unbelievable,” Coughlin said.
The proceeds from Wednesday will be donated to Islamic Relief USA, a charity that Kadoura said he could trust. Islamic Relief USA is providing emergency relief for families and vital aid such as food, water and medicine.
Kadoura reached out to Muamar Dahnoun, Imam of the Islamic Association of Raleigh, which works with Islamic Relief USA. The Islamic Association of Raleigh acts as a facilitator for multiple charities to donate to refugees.
“I think we are just part of many, many others who have reacted to this incident with a humanitarian cause,” Dahnoun said.
He said the Islamic Association has received roughly $65,000 from local help so far.
Patrick Jeffs, a Chapel Hill resident and regular customer at Med Deli, said that the event was important for encouraging people to support communities impacted by crises around the world, especially in a town that engages with international diversity.
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