"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

Sioux Falls restaurant holds fundraiser for children in Gaza

On+Dec.+10%2C+Sanaa%E2%80%99s+Gourmet+Mediterranean+restaurant+hosted+a+breakfast+fundraiser+with+hopes+of+providing+more+food+to+the+children+of+Gaza.
Reese Duncan
On Dec. 10, Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean restaurant hosted a breakfast fundraiser with hopes of providing more food to the children of Gaza.

As warfare in Gaza continues, limiting access to food and water for the 2.3 million people there, a local restaurant owner found her own way of providing aid through a fundraiser meal.

Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean restaurant served a traditional Syrian breakfast on Dec. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with all of the proceeds going directly toward providing food for the children of Gaza. Before the event, owner and chef Sanaa Abourezk posted about her plans on social media, building up community support and hopes for success. Over 100 people showed interest online, and even more showed up for the breakfast itself. Within the first 15 minutes, the serving line reached far outside the doors. Conversation and sounds of clinking cutlery soon filled the air. Dozens of friends and families gathered in line and at tables. Abourezk and her kitchen staff hustled to keep up with the demand. 

Customers lined the edges of Sanaa’s to sample traditional Syrian breakfast foods, including yogurt, salads, bean spreads and pita bread. (Reese Duncan)

Abourezk is no stranger to using her cooking skills for causes she cares about. Besides her national recognition in culinary media such as the show “Beat Bobby Flay,” the Syrian-born chef is a member of World Central Kitchen. This nonprofit organization provides meals to those in humanitarian crises, including to people affected by natural disasters or, as in this case, war. She uses this membership to empower her goals to provide food for those in desperate need.

“I feel that we all have a responsibility to help other human beings whenever we can. I have been hosting fundraiser meals for the last 16 years,” said Abourezk. “ I am a chef member of World Central Kitchen. I raised money for them when they went to Ukraine, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and so on.”

Since the opening of her restaurant in 2003, Sanaa Abourezk has become a household name in the Sioux Falls food scene. (Delaney Gramlick)

Because of her experience in fundraising, Abourezk felt as if it was only natural to help those suffering in Gaza. Still, the success of her events lies in the participation of Sioux Falls residents. Communal support propelled her efforts forward in the past, and this fundraiser stood as no exception.

“The people of Sioux Falls are so generous and kind and always willing to help,” said Abourezk. “The fact that your money provided a meal and water to someone far away is very humbling.”

The breakfast’s purpose of aiding the youth of Gaza struck a particularly timely cord for many Sioux Falls natives, making this meal at Sanaa’s more discussed than many others. This heightened notoriety reached customer Brooke Norgaard, who saw the event as a glimmer of positivity in an intense international situation.

I think what is happening right now makes it hard to see humanity, but this shows humanity is here, alive and well.

— Brooke Noorgard

“I think that it is incredible that Sanaa is fundraising for the children of Gaza,” said Noorgard. “I think what is happening right now makes it hard to see humanity, but this shows humanity is here, alive and well.”

Marilyn Meyer emphasized this hope for humanity, attending the breakfast out of concern for the children impacted by violence and a drive to help them.

“I hope this will reach the children who have lost so much, and hopefully feed them and give them something positive,” said Meyer.

When looking at Abourezk herself, Sanaa’s regular Sharon Carlson appreciates the chef’s devotion to extending her culinary skills far beyond her kitchen. Because she has set this example, others can take inspiration from her creativity and harness it to form impacts of their own.

“Sanaa’s heart is so big. I think that the truth she shares in the world through her ability to make this amazing food, and do events like this, helps to ignite the hearts of every other person who comes in contact with her,” said Carlson. “That is what we need more of in the world.”

Crowds of Sioux Falls residents attended the fundraiser, ultimately cleaning out the restaurant of all food. (Reese Duncan)

By the end of the three hours, Sanaa’s was completely sold out of all food. Afterward, Abourezk posted on social media that the breakfast raised over $20,000, far surpassing her original goal of $5,000.  With these funds, she plans on spreading the same communal connection felt in her restaurant to children thousands of miles away.

“It is like a family coming together in times of crisis or celebrations. We enjoy a meal and help someone else enjoy a meal,” said Abourezk.

Abourezk continues to highlight that her fundraisers are organized to help anyone in need, no matter where or who they may be; she utilizes her expertise to assist others through a fundamental necessity: food.

“It doesn’t matter your race, religion or political affiliations,” said Abourezk. “I hope that you never lose your humanity and willingness to help others.”

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About the Contributors
Reese Duncan, Editor-in-Chief
Reese Duncan is a senior, third-year staff member and an Online Editor-in-Chief for the Statesman. Duncan is also a member of the LHS oral interpretation team and considers herself a gift shop connoisseur. When she is not listening to “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” from NPR, you can find her playing with her dog, traveling or volunteering at the State Theater. If you ever need a movie recommendation, she is the one to ask.
Delaney Gramlick, Editor-in-Chief
Delaney Gramlick is a senior, third-year staff member and an Editor-in-Chief for the Statesman. Gramlick is involved in LHS theater and drama club, as well as an editor for the Writing Center. Outside of the crowded and slightly (very) putrid-smelling halls of LHS, Gramlick acts for Plays for Living and the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts, plays roller derby with Sioux Falls Sodak Attack and teaches Falls Prevention classes through Sanford Health. She enjoys going for walks, thrifting, playing with her puppy and drinking upwards of 3 cans of V8 energy (peach mango flavored!) every day. She also has 387 Word Hunt wins on GamePigeon.
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