The Astoria Welfare Society distributed winter clothing Sunday Oct. 29 to more than 300 migrants, asylum seekers and other community members in need at 30th Street and 36th Avenue in Astoria. In an emailed statement, Astoria Welfare Society General Secretary Mohammed Jabed Uddin said that it is everyone’s responsibility to stand beside those who are unemployed and in financial crisis, especially as cold winter weather comes to the city. In addition to Uddin, the organization’s president Sohel Ahmed, community activist Shamsher Ali and Queen’s Bangladesh Society advisor Tofail Chowdhury led the event. The program was funded by Apollo Insurance Brokers CEO Shamsher Ali.
Uddin said he saw that community members often have unused old winter clothing and recognized a need in the shelter system.
“There are people in the community that have extra clothes they left in the closet or sometimes they never use them. Sometimes they throw them away. But these jackets, if I can have them, I can give them to these people who have no food, no water,” Uddin said. “Our shelter system is very bad. They’re not getting enough support. People are looking for cans and food on the streets.”
Uddin has also established a community freezer on 36th Avenue and 30th Street which he restocks daily for people who cannot afford groceries.
“People have no jobs, rent is too high,” Uddin said.
Astoria Welfare Society was originally founded in 2019 to provide Halal groceries to low income muslim communities in Western Queens. At the time, they were the only organization providing free halal food in the city, according to the organization’s website. Uddin says their events have reached over 4,000 community members in need. During Hurricane Ida he helped raise $20,000 to help families whose homes and cars had been damaged.
Uddin said he constantly hears from people across the city that need resources.
“I get calls everyday. I’ve gotten three calls today so far,” Uddin said. “Today I talked to people from Bronx and Brooklyn, two guys. I just got a few jackets that they’re going to come and pick up from me.”
Uddin said the Astoria Welfare Society is planning a Thanksgiving food drive to give away halal chicken Nov. 18 sponsored by State Senator Kristen Gonzalez and Queens Together.