News Story

Canadian Mormons Show Gratitude Through Service

On January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament issued an official proclamation designating the second Monday in October as “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

Gratitude — or thanksgiving — is a central element of the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a key teaching of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that gratitude is often best expressed through service. September becomes a busy service month for Church members supporting the admonition given by Prime Minister Stephen Harper when the September 11 National Day of Service was established in 2011 — to help turn “an infamous day (September 11, 2001) into a day of hope, marked by a communal outpouring of warmth and generosity.”

Throughout September, members of the Church were engaged in a variety of service activities in support of this goal. The service performed ranged from small to very large and from east coast to west coast. Participants included the very young to the not-so-young and Church and community members alike.

Highlights from activities across Canada include the following:

British Columbia and Alberta

Church members, combining with members of other faiths and the community, led and managed three large and successful food drives.

The province-wide B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive involved 5,400 volunteer participants, who visited almost 230,000 addresses. The drive collected more than 440,000 pounds of food for local food banks.

Almost 7,000 volunteers participated in Calgary’s Annual City-Wide Food Drive and collected more than 422,000 pounds of food for the Calgary Food Bank. Now in its 11th year, the drive surpassed its previous record for door-to-door collections (excluding donations from corporations).

In the Edmonton area, the Latter-day Saints’ city-wide door-to-door food drive collected 197,000 pounds of food, with an estimated 3,000 volunteers. This amount was the best ever result for the food drive in the greater Edmonton area. The Edmonton Food Bank receives approximately three-quarters of the total collection. The rest goes to other local food banks. 


Members of the Smiths Falls Branch (small congregation) of the Church provided volunteer support for the annual Gauntlet Obstacle Challenge, an event that draws hundreds of athletes to the community and raises funds for the local hospital. Church members in Brockville volunteered at the city food bank. In Belleville, they held a car wash and barbecue to raise funds for the local food bank. In Trenton, branch members spruced up a city park, and in Trent Hills, they cleaned a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail. The Etobicoke Relief Society assembled 200 hygiene kits for a local women’s shelter. The Brampton Stake (similar to a diocese) Relief Society has been engaged with the Vanier Centre for Women to provide a supply of backpacks filled with an assortment of items to assist women in the initial stage of their transition back into society upon release from the centre.

Quebec and Ottawa

In Alma, Quebec, Church members helped clean the outside of a local women’s shelter. Members in Granby helped cultivate the Horticultural Society gardens at the main entrance of Collège Mont-Sacré-Coeur. Latter-day Saints throughout Quebec and the Ottawa area spent hundreds of hours in preparation for the open house and rededication of the Montreal Temple, scheduled for early November. An enormous effort is being made to engage and invite the surrounding community members, faith groups and other organizations and institutions to this event.

Nova Scotia

Fifty members of the Dartmouth Ward (congregation) supported the annual Harvest Festival in neighbouring Cole Harbour. The float they entered in a local parade won the prize for best overall float. The Truro Branch organized a food drive for the Colchester Food Bank.

Latter-day Saints who participated in these service activities agree that they were also recipients of a “bountiful harvest” through their efforts. Otensia Norton of the Edmonton Riverbend Stake remarked, “When we picked up the donations, I felt overwhelming gratitude for the families who donated food to the efforts. I felt the Lord’s blessings on their homes for giving so generously to those in need in our community.”

In keeping with Jesus Christ’s admonition to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (see Matthew 22:39), many Church members and those who were served should be able to celebrate a very meaningful and rewarding Canadian Thanksgiving in 2015.

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