Bay Area restaurants raising money to support children in Gaza amid war between Israel, Hamas

A dozen Bay Area restaurants are raising money to support children in Gaza by donating a portion of proceeds from their sales.

Lisa Ahmad, owner and chef of Mirchi Café in Fremont, said she felt compelled to help support the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, amid the Israel and Hamas conflict. Half of all proceeds from meals sold on Wednesday at her Fremont and Dublin locations will go to children on the ground in Gaza.

"There are children that will be orphaned in this," she said. "There will be children that will be wounded to a degree. They'll have emotional scars for the rest of their lives so I can't imagine the support they'll be needing."

The first person to donate was a new customer named Diane who said she had been following the developments in Gaza and wanted to help.


Former Berkeley police officer in Israel fundraising for Israeli reservists

Jerome Cobert, a retired member of the Berkeley Police Department and Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, says the money raised will be used to buy additional safety supplies designed to help reservists best perform in the field.

"I’ve seen a lot on social media," Diane said. "I have that in my head, and I can’t get it out. That’s what gets emotional. I also have a daughter and seeing what’s happening to the children… it’s hard."

The proceeds will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, along with Islamic Relief USA. A spokesperson for Islamic Relief USA told KTVU the money will be used to purchase supplies, medical aid, food, and clothes. The supplies will be sent in when the borders to Gaza are opened. The non-profit just received $11,000 on Tuesday from another restaurant, El Halal Amigos in San Jose.

Mirchi’s is hoping to do just as well. Ahmad, who is Italian American, and married a man from Pakistan, sees her café as a fusion of cultures and love. Although she has no ties to Gaza, she knows people who have lost loved ones in the conflict.

"When you see people you love, lose loved ones and you see the pain they're suffering, it becomes a bit more personal," she added. "We've seen the plight and the strife of the last 75 years of Gaza. We feel it’s an important thing to support to help people who don't have a way to defend themselves."

Mirchi Café is one of a dozen restaurants participating in the fundraising drive for children in Gaza. Proceeds and donations are being collected through Nov. 4. For more information on participating restaurants, visit @halalfest on Instagram.