MONTREAL -- One community’s way of marking a religious celebration brought unexpected good news to a local shelter on Thursday.

Volunteers pulled up to Chez Doris, the downtown shelter that serves mostly Indigenous women, with carloads of donations.

What was behind the windfall? The Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr.

“Today we are celebrating the end of Ramadan,” explained Azin Nowrouzi, who works with MTO Shahmagsoudi, an international nonprofit with a chapter in Montreal.

They decided to mark the end of the month of fasting by helping to feed others, she said.

“We are celebrating this day by delivering more than 40 boxes of non-perishable food and 190 face handmade masks,” she said.

“This is the way that we want to contribute to our community and share our love and our hope for the people who need more attention.”

The director of Chez Doris said the donations really are hugely needed right now. Demand has shot up this year, said Marina Boulos-Winton.

“Most of our work is homelessness prevention because… we work with women who live below the poverty line, and during the pandemic we're focusing mostly on homeless women and that clientele has doubled,” she said.

“We have gone from a small organization of 24 employees to an organization of 51.”

The local MNA, Liberal Jennifer Maccarone, sent a thank-you message by video, praising the group for its “compassion.” Boulos-Winton also said she appreciates the religious significance of the move.

“It's really special, because it’s the last day of Ramadan, a day to give back,” she said. “Every day can be a day to ‘help thy neighbour.’”