Wearing art for charity's sake across UAE

A charity initiative involving T-shirts designed by young local artists is one way of helping at a time when giving should be at the forefront of people's minds.

Students from Mawaheb have teamed up with Giordano to create six unique T-shirt designs that are on sale this Ramadan.
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A chain of clothes shops has suggested something a little different for charity this Ramadan.

Giordano, which has 42 shops across the UAE, has collaborated with a Dubai arts centre to create 3,000 limited-edition T-shirts for the Holy Month.

They were designed at Mawaheb, an arts centre for young adults with special needs, which will receive half of the proceeds from their sale.

"We wanted to come up with something special," said Ishwar Chugani, Giordano's regional executive director.

"Instead of just giving cash we are encouraging artists and allowing others to support these artists to display their talents.

"And these designs, they have great messages. They are all about the world, all about smiles, all about happiness, all about people."

The shirts, priced at Dh40, are available in six designs and went on sale last week in 15 shops and online.

The project is the first by the Giordano Initiative for Talent programme, an initiative aimed at supporting local communities.

"You can really see how the artists love to be a part of this," said Mr Chugani. "Everyone who has seen their work really appreciates it."

While there are many ways to mark the month of kindness and goodwill, donating money to established organisations such as the Zakat Fund and the Red Crescent Authority (RCA) remains the most popular.

This year, the RCA hopes to raise Dh100 million during Ramadan and distribute Dh1.7m worth of food vouchers to underprivileged residents.

Donors can contribute at more than 200 collection points at mosques, shopping centres, hospitals and banks.

Bank customers also receive donation forms in the post, allowing them to contribute for iftars, Eid clothing or orphan sponsorship.

The RCA recommends donations of between Dh15 and Dh20 for iftars; Dh25 and Dh100 for Eid clothing for a person; and Dh200 and Dh500 for Eid clothing for a family.

It will also set up 120 tents to serve iftar meals to 250,000 people across the country.

Contributions to the Zakat Fund will help it to increase its aid to Yemen this Ramadan, as well as its usual work with needy families, widows and students who need funds to complete their studies.

The fund has provided grants worth Dh56.2m during the first half of the year.

Interested donors in Dubai should note that only organisations approved by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department are allowed to raise funds.

This year, the department set the Zakat Al Fitr (the charity paid at the end of Ramadan) and iftar donations at Dh15 each, and Eid clothing donations at a minimum of Dh40. A list of approved societies is at www.iacad.gov.ae/.

Other agencies are looking for volunteers for special projects. In the capital, the Emirates Foundation will send out thousands of young volunteers to renovate homes and refurbish mosques.

The project has two main goals: promoting social and civic responsibility, and helping low-income families.

The "Iftar for Cabs" initiative, sponsored by Starwood Hotels, will provide meals for taxi drivers who drop off passengers at its hotels, which include the Sheraton and Le Meridien, on August 7.