They were lining up outside the door at Lansdowne Public School on Saturday afternoon to get a taste of kibbe and a host of other Middle Eastern food.
The event held by the Sudbury Muslim Society was just the first of what organizers hope will be a series of events to raise money for the Sudbury Arabic School.
Tahani Joubeily said the event was supposed to run noon-4 p.m., but they sold out of food not too long after 2 p.m.
"I'm happy, I'm really happy with the way everything turned out," Joubeily said. "The turnout was amazing. People were coming in and thanking me for doing this fundraiser, and hoping that we would do other fundraisers.
"Which I will do. This was our first, and you learn a lot by doing it and you do better next time."
Planning an event like this was stressful, she admitted, but she got a lot of help from members of the society, who are passionate about the school.
"I want to say thank you to all of them,” Joubeily said. "We started the Arabic school five years ago, with really limited resources and mostly funded by the board and by parents.
"But we couldn't give the kids what they should have and what they should learn. So I thought about hosting a fundraiser. This was my first experience doing that, and I was very stressed, to tell you the truth."
The cuisine featured food from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Bengal, Indonesia, Palestine, Jordan and Algeria.
"For this time, we wanted to try and see how people reacted" to the food, she said. "Next time we'll have a bigger selection and much more food. Because look, it's 2:35 and we're out of food."
Among those helping were some of the families who came to the city fleeing the brutal civil war in Syria, Joubeily said. Many of the children have already mastered English and all are eager to contribute to their new home.
"It doesn't take long to adapt and fall in love with this community,” said Joubeily, herself a Canadian citizen who came here from Lebanon.
They're finding out what she and others already knew – that this is a welcoming community. The support they received at the fundraiser shows that.
"The people who came weren't just here to eat delicious Arabic food, but to help us with the school,” she said. "Why? It's because this is Sudbury. This is how our community is. It doesn't matter if you're Muslim and Arab or not. We live together. We're good citizens. We live here together and we interact together."
Long term, Joubeily said they hope to grow the school beyond the 40-45 students they currently have, who are taught the language by their parents.
"Our ambition for the future is we want to have a building, and then open more classes — not just for Arab students, but non-Arabs students and adults," she said.