News Story

Mormon Youth Making Meals and Making a Difference

Youth from across Ontario attending a youth leadership conference in Waterloo, Ontario, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in a service partnership on August 13, turning three hours of labour into an immeasurable blessing to families in need by assembling 174,000 meals.

Partnering with the Church were Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE), the University of Waterloo and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Including a large donation from the Church, Robert Gilmour (president of the Hamilton Ontario Stake solicited various organizations and individuals, raising over $40,000 to cover the costs of the food and the packaging and shipping of the meals, as well as bringing representatives of FCE to the conference to instruct and supervise the participants. He expressed gratitude for all those involved, adding, “We will all cherish this very special service experience.”

Madison Campbell, FCE director of development, disclosed how her organization began its association with the Church. “We were working at a Republican national convention and he (Mitt Romney) introduced us. We have had a close relationship with the Mormons since and love working with them. Just in the last few years, we have assembled over 2 million meals with Mormon groups alone.”

Meaghan Crumb, talent manager of FCE, echoed Campbell’s sentiments, adding, “They are fun and some of the most service-oriented people I have met.” She further complimented the youth for having an inspiring and rejuvenating commitment to the cause.

For the Strength of Youth, a pamphlet produced by the Church for youth ages 12 to 18, suggests standards of behaviour on 18 topics, including service, to help them make correct choices for increased happiness as life offers them great opportunities, but also great challenges.

“Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ. … Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you. … As you devote yourself to serving others … your heart will be filled with love” (For the Strength of Youth, pp. 32–33).

Mike and Chris Odendahl were the videographer/photographer team for the event. Of the experience, Chris said, “As I photographed (the youth), there were many special moments I witnessed, as their acts of service filled their eyes and faces with joy.”

“We often don’t realize it’s our neighbours who sometimes need help the most. There is a high percentage of people in our own backyards who are experiencing food insecurity,” Campbell added.

The University of Waterloo donated the use of Federation Hall for the event. Susanne Keppler, spokesperson for the university, said, “We are so happy to be part of this special project. This is a one-of-a-kind project and it makes me proud to be involved.”

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region identified 37% of recipients of food hampers as children aged under 18 years. This means more than 64,000 of the 174,000 meals assembled through this project will go to feeding children locally.

The purpose of these types of activities is often focused on the end receivers, forgetting that the process of carrying out charitable events is a journey that itself can change lives. Volunteers walk away understanding a little better, caring a little more and breaking stigmas that only encourage them to look a little deeper for those who are in need but who often go unnoticed.

Contributed by Charity Fleming and Fulvio Martinez

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