Baltimore was left in a state of shock in the wake of explosive protests over Freddy Gray's death. The atmosphere was tense for weeks after the height of the riots. My brothers and sisters in faith at Baltimore's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and I realized that the real victims of the riots were the city's most fragile citizens: its poor, its elderly, and its children.
"We're not just giving away a free ice cream. We are also spreading love."
So members of our community delivered hot meals to more than 60 senior citizens at a local shelter near pharmacy that burned down in the riots. But what about helping heal tomorrow's generation?
That's when we got an idea. We rented out an ice cream truck, printed out a sign that read "Free Ice Cream for Kids," and began driving around the city.
Unsurprisingly, the kids loved it.
After seeing the reception to our project, we kicked it up a notch. We spent 18 days traveling around 18 of Charm City's schools and parks to bring a little of its sweetness back.
"We're not just giving away a free ice cream. We are also spreading love, making friends, healing wounds," I told Shahina Bashir for her piece in the Baltimore Sun. "We are not giving out pamphlets; we just want to give the children hugs and tell them, 'we love you.'"
City officials also lent us their support. We had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at City Hall about our project.
And at our Roosevelt Park stop, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby swung by with her husband Councilman Nick Mosby their two children.