By Ali Alenizi
Ali Alenizi will graduate from the master’s in MIS program in December.
Imagine discovering for yourself what you believed was impossible. This is what the transformational leadership course with professor Rob Owen intended. The course was about creating leaders rather than teaching about leadership and the different leadership methodologies. The course objective was to discover for yourself how to be a leader and exercise leadership effectively as your natural self-expression. I had to undertake a project that seemed impossible and left a meaningful impact on the community. I started Eid for Joy, a community toy drive event that served the underprivileged and less fortunate children within the local Tucson Muslim and refugee community. It was a nearly impossible project that I had just three short weeks to complete.
My idea of Eid for Joy was inspired by Toys for Tots and Stuff the Bus, the two largest community toy drive events in Tucson. I wanted to create a similar event that targeted the underserved and less fortunate children within the local Tucson Muslim and refuge community during the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice, a holiday that encourages philanthropic and charitable activities. I assembled a team of three other dedicated University of Arizona students and we planned a course of action over the three weeks period. Our main objective was to get the community to become involved and engaged in what we were trying to accomplish.
We established strong relationships with recognized organizations within the local Tucson community. The Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) and the Muslim Community Center of Tucson (MCCT) both generously allowed us to use their facilities as our hubs of operations and to raise monetary donations during their community gatherings. In appreciation, The Noor Women Association, a local non-profit organization serving widowed and single mothers in the community, donated over $300 dollars for the toy drive event alone. In total, we were able to gather $2,225 dollars in monetary donations from non-profit organizations and other private donors. In addition, we received a 20% discount in toy purchases from Robert Favela, the store manager of Toys-R-Us on Broadway and Craycroft. We purchased a total of 235 toys that were distributed door-to-door with the assistance of 12 community volunteers and the local International Rescue Committee (IRC) office. The involved organizations and individuals were able to turn the toy drive into an amazing success story.
The incredible experience I gained from the transformational leadership class allowed me to create a future for myself and those around me that would not otherwise have happened. It was truly an amazing experience to start from nothing and then turn it around to achieve limitless outcomes. I started a community tradition that brought different people together to help those less fortunate of us. We have already started plans for the upcoming 2014 second annual Eid for Joy toy drive. Our next goals are to establish Eid for Joy as a registered non-profit organization and increase our scope of operations to serve a greater number of underprivileged and less fortunate children within the local Tucson Community. Like Us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eidforjoy
Ali Alenizi prepares to shop at Toys-R-Us for his Eid for Joy project. Photo courtesy Ali Alenizi.