KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The movement, coordinated by a Knoxville man, started as a way to honor three Muslim students shot in the head at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It has grown into a nationwide campaign, collecting almost 100,000 cans for food pantries across America.
The victims were identified by police as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh. Police said the shooting started over a parking spot, but family members are calling the shootings a hate crime, urging all American Muslims to respond to hate with love.
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Three weeks Feed Their Legacy, a campaign inspired by one of the shooting victims feeding the homeless in North Carolina, was started. Two-hundred eighty-five mosques in 33 states joined the national campaign.
“While we mourn the loss of three young and extraordinary American Muslims, and the brutal way they were killed, the Quran instructs us to respond to evil with good,” shared Tarek El-Messidi, Knoxville resident and National Coordinator of Feed Their Legacy.
To date, the group said they all donated cans and money nationwide are equivalent to at least 100,000 meals, enough to feed the entire homeless population of North Carolina nine times over. On Sunday afternoon, the Knoxville group has met at Annoor Academy to count, sort and pack more than 15,000 cans collected locally for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
“One month later, while we still grieve the sudden loss of our family, the silver lining is this tragedy is a response like Feed Their Legacy,” said the brother of Yusor and Razan Mohammad. “It comforts us tremendously to see a photo of Deah feeding 75 people has inspired a movement that will feed more than 75,000.”
The Knoxville Muslim Community’s campaign was the fourth most successful drive in the country, collecting more cans than any other city in Tennessee combined.
El-Messidi said the group is still taking donation at their website, feedtheirlegacy.com. The group plans to present the cans to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee Tuesday afternoon.