Saudi Arabia's charity organisations have once again embarked on fulfilling the most essential Islamic obligations this Ramadan, by channelling charitable activities towards community development.
They are also trying to teach the younger generations the importance of sharing. As part of Saudi culture, elders in the family encourage youngsters to participate in daily acts of charity and help them understand its significance and take the tradition forward.
“I am 15-years-old and have been doing this since I was a young girl with my father and brothers, they used to carry me in their arms,” recalls Razan Ahmed, a Saudi student in Jeddah.
“My mom would prepare the food and my brothers and I would help pack it away and my father would come from work, and take us to different neighbourhoods in the city where we park and give out dates, sweets, water and laban. In our family the saying is 'we get what we give' and God loves those who do charity,” she says.
Khutwat Khair, a volunteer group in Riyadh, aims to raise awareness, by creating memorable experiences, aiding communities in need, and gives opportunities to the younger generation to participate in good causes, Lulwah Alajlan, the project lead in Riyadh, tells The National.
“During Ramadan we create a month-long campaign called '30 days of giving', the volunteers work on a number of initiatives “targeting as many members of the community as possible," Ms Alajlan says.
“We hosted a variety of non-profit organisations throughout this month, including children's cancer associations and disability organisations; as well as large mosques, developing neighbourhoods and busy streets.
"We are working with these organisations to create unique activities for them and raising awareness to their cause; including working with large institutions ranging from restaurants to public places."
During the month, the volunteers provide iftar and suhoor meals for different neighbourhoods in Riyadh.
“We give opportunities to youth to participate and to appreciate the world around them. Another initiative during this month is helping families prepare for Eid by providing the necessities to help them celebrate this holiday,” Ms Alajlan says.
Khutwat Khair volunteers also took people of determination to a park where they had food and drinks, and did some exercises together. The activity was sponsored by the charity organisation "liajlehum" in Riyadh.
Another charity group, Live to Give, has formed its own community in Jeddah over the years and distributes daily iftar meals and grocery boxes in poor neighbourhoods in Jeddah.
“I like coming here every year and participating with these amazing people,” Abeer, a 16-year-old female Saudi volunteer, says.
Volunteers gather at a specified place around 4pm to help prepare food boxes, which usually contain rice, chicken, water, laban and dates.
Groups are formed to distribute the food in different locations. Volunteers then visit homes, greeting people "Ramadan Kareem" and handing over the "iftar sayim" boxes up until 6pm.
Following increased awareness about the importance of charity, volunteers are turning up in thousands each day.
One such example is the Joy of Youth volunteer group, which was founded in Jeddah more than a decade ago. It has now expanded to different cities across the kingdom.
“We started our campaigns in Jeddah and expanded to deferent cities across the kingdom, including Makkah, Madinah, Tabuk, Riyadh, Abha, Hail, Dammam, Ahsa and Khobar,” says Dr Ahmed Jamil, president of Joy Of Youth.
The group of volunteers consisting mainly of young men and women distribute about 300 to 500 iftar meals and essentials to people every weekend in Ramadan. Passengers and staff at Jeddah airport also benefit from the charity.
Dania Islam, a 22-year-old Saudi volunteer in Jeddah, says her involvement with Ramadan charity groups has given her an opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
“I love to join different volunteer groups because I can work with one in Makkah, and one if I am in Jeddah," she says.
“During these visits we get to see so many people living in different conditions, one small room with six people sometimes, and it's a chance for us to engage with them, play with the kids and put a smile to their faces.
"We usually play games and give gifts to kids ahead of Eid, I make sure to never miss it."
Maha Alansari, a 27-year-old Saudi volunteer in Jeddah, says distributing food helps her to "connect with everyone from every race, and background”.
“It is amazing to see older and younger generations giving out food to fasting drivers at traffic lights and young girls carrying heavy boxes of food supplies giving it out with a smile and all hoping for a reward from God and no appreciation from anyone.
“ I wait for this opportunity every year and it brings me to tears seeing what a beautiful thing charity is in Islam — to help one another or help ease their suffering,”