Church and Islamic center team up on Christmas

When Tony Long is singing, he's in his element. And on Christmas Day, there's nothing else he'd rather be doing.

"My family is all the way down south but this family, these people give me love, it's special," Long said.

He along with more than 100 other Long Islanders celebrated Christmas Day with a warm meal and holiday cheer in Westbury. The annual tradition is made possible thanks to the Westbury United Methodist Church and the Islamic Center of Long Island.

"They're living in situations where they don't have the facility to cook a good, nutritious meal or living in situations where they can't sit with family," Rose Walker, event coordinator with the Westbury United Methodist Church, told FOX 5 NY. "And that was the impetus that drove the event 15 years ago."

A child is given a gift

The Westbury United Methodist Church and the Islamic Center of Long Island united on Christmas Day to serve the community. (FOX 5 NY/Jodi Goldberg)

"We're all in this together and why not do whatever we can so the people less fortunate can have a warm meal, can get a toy for their children, get some clothes to put on their back and to really be joyous and celebrate today," said Dr. Uzma Syed of the Islamic Center of Long Island.

Ariane Lee volunteered her time to make the day extra special for those who could use a little help.

"My family, we have enough and we have everything we need," Lee said. "But for these families, this is their one chance a year to have a really festive Christmas."

This year they're also offering free health screenings to give people who may not have access to medical care an opportunity to get checked out.

"We want to try to offer as much as we can to the community not just a meal on Christmas Day and the clothes and gift for the kids," Westbury United Pastor Elon Sylvester. "We want to try to see if we can meet all of the needs of the community."

By holding this joint event, the two groups meet the needs of the community and demonstrate unity.


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