While other high school seniors may be focusing on spending time with friends during their final months before summer, Lexi Moore has been busy making more than 1,000 cards that will be delivered to mosques all over the United States.
Moore is taking part in a campaign through nonprofit DoSomething.org called “Sincerely, Us,” which is planning to ship handmade cards to every single U.S. mosque during the month of Ramadan as a sign of acceptance and support. There are approximately 2,300 mosques in the U.S., according to the group.
“The campaign really stood out to me,” the 18-year-old Connecticut resident told NBC News. “Anybody can do it. It’s an easy campaign that anybody can do, and it shows support for everybody in our country. It shows that Muslims aren’t just the outsiders. They’re actually here. They’re accepted.”
Adam Garner, campaigns manager for DoSomething.org, told NBC News that the idea for the campaign was developed about a year ago as a pet-cause of his. He noticed the persistent Islamophobia present in the United States, he said.
“Simply put, it’s not an easy time to be Muslim in the United States,” he said, noting several statistics highlighting the issue.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of physical assaults against Muslims in 2015 reached the their highest levels since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; and a Southern Poverty Law Center report found the number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S. tripled in 2016.
“This trend is concerning especially around young people who DoSomething.org primarily interacts with,” he said. “According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 42 percent of Muslims with children in K–12 schools report bullying of their children because of their faith. This is compared to the 23 percent of Jewish and 20 percent of Protestant parents who report that their children have been bullied."
Though DoSomething.org doesn’t believe the campaign will end Islamophobia in the United States or end the marginalization of certain communities, Garner said that organization officials do believe it will help educate their 5.5 million members who advocate for positive social change.
“We thought this was the most salient way to introduce young people to their neighbors through a holiday,” he said. “This is about civic education. This is about how a young person learns to navigate a diverse democracy who have different holidays and beliefs and giving them a really accessible way to do it.”
An atheist himself, Garner said he is a fan of Ramadan for its values and compassion and sense of bettering one’s self.
“It’s a really inspiring way to introduce people to Muslims,” he said.
DoSomething.org expects about 45,000 cards will be created by more than 40,000 members, Garner said. The company has about 36,000 cards at the moment and expects a spike at the end of the campaign, which is scheduled to end June 30. Each mosque will be sent approximately 15 to 20 cards, Garner said.
Some of those have already been dropped off, including at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. Students from the nonprofit buildOn delivered the cards and got to ask questions and learn more, making it a very “powerful” experience, Garner said.
“It means a lot to me,” said Imam Chernor Saad Jalloh of the Islamic Cultural Center. “It means so much. I was very happy to receive the cards. In addition, the community appreciated the gesture; it is always great to see people from other faiths showing their support, and we are truly grateful for their kindness and compassion.”
Through his interaction with the members, Garner has learned that the non-Muslim members are looking at the campaign as an act of compassion and solidarity, he said, while the Muslim participants are trying to help support their own community.
“I’ve gotten dozens of gorgeous letters thanking us for doing this for them and thanking us for letting us show support for their community,” he said. “It’s been really humbling.”