By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> A local business owner is making eating healthy and helping others one and the same by donating the money of nutritious food sales.
Ashraf Khalil, owner of the all-vegan iCreate Café in Pottstown, has started two fundraisers to help those in need. One campaign with help local families purchase school supplies and the other fundraiser will give money to the Hurricane Harvey flood response in Texas.
Khalil is calling the latter “Hummus for Houston” and throughout the month of September, 25 percent of all hummus sales at iCreate Café at 130 King St. will be donated to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“When (Hurricane) Harvey hit Houston, I was really devastated,” Khalil said. “Seeing it on TV and watching these people lose their houses and everything, I was crying literally watching people.”
The storm came on land as a Category 4 hurricane and days of constant rain lead to major flooding throughout Texas. One location even received about 52 inches of rain making it the heaviest tropical downpour recorded in the continental U.S.
Khalil said currently those in Texas are suffering but the next big natural disaster can just as easily hit closer to home. He said Hurricane Harvey happened around the same time that Pottstown had a tornado scare. He said what happened to those in Texas can happen to anyone.
“My house is in a flood zone in Pottstown,” Khalil said adding that if a major storm happened in the area then his home could very easily be flooded just like the many homes in Texas.
After seeing all the photos and videos of the flooding in Texas, Khalil knew he wanted to do something to help. He immediately started researching disaster relief charities and wanted to donate his money to a smaller organization. He came across the nonprofit “All Hands Volunteers.” It’s a disaster relief nonprofit organization powered by volunteers and is headquartered in Massachusetts. Khalil donated money to the charity right away but wanted to do even more which is why he began the hummus fundraiser.
Hummus is dip or spread made from blended chickpeas and other flavors. iCreate Café has various kinds including black bean hummus, spinach hummus and potato hummus. The cost of a container of hummus at iCreate is $4 so $1 will be donated to All Hands Volunteers with each sale this month.
As part of the Hummus for Houston campaign, Khalil will have a special fundraising night at iCreate Café. From 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15, 50 percent of all sales at the café will go to the All Hands Volunteers organization to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Khalil will also have two plant-based cooking classes this month and 50 percent of those sales will go to the All Hands Volunteers organization as well. The classes will be held 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 and Sept. 19 at the iCreate Café. For more information about each class and to register, visit www.icreatecafe.com/health.
Khalil is also using this month to raise money for families that need help buying school supplies for children. Until Sept. 18, 100 percent of the money made from baba ghannoj sales at iCreate Café will be donated to local families. Baba ghannoj is a dip made from roasted eggplant that is often served with pita bread. A container of the spread is $5 at the cafe and every dollar will go toward helping families in need as part of the back-to-school fundraiser.
Khalil said there are many families that can’t afford all the necessary items their children need for school because of differing circumstances. He said money from the fundraiser will be used to purchase gift cards then he will personally find families to donate the cards to so they can buy school supplies.
Khalil is looking to do even more fundraisers in the future. He said the rebuilding of places affected by Hurricane Harvey is going to take years so he wants to continue to bring awareness to those affected by the natural disaster. One idea Khalil has is to talk to other downtown Pottstown business owners to see if they would be interested in doing a weekend fundraiser where 10 percent of all sales would go toward Hurricane Harvey.
“This is the biggest disaster we’ve had since Katrina and it hasn’t stopped yet,” he said.
To learn more about the All Hands Volunteers nonprofit organization or to donate directly to Hurricane Harvey through the website, visit www.hands.org. For more information about iCreate Cafe including hours of operation and other menu items, visit the website www.icreatecafe.com or call 484-312-0404. Also follow the vegan restaurant on Facebook at www.facebook.com/iCreateCafe.