News Story

Mormons Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday by Giving Back

Maple syrup, ice hockey, back bacon, Niagara Falls and national pride are a few things for which Canada is famous. However, to celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is choosing to give back to the community.

On Saturday, June 10, 2017, Latter-day Saints in the Kingston Ontario District helped combat the local issue of hunger. Partnering with Feeding Children Everywhere, seven congregations within the Kingston area teamed up with other community and civic-minded individuals to tackle six hunger initiatives in their respective areas. The goal was to package 150,000 meals — 1,000 meals for each year since Confederation. The final count of meals that were assembled was 143,736, and there were also donations of many bags of rice, lentils and Himalayan salt to local food banks and individuals for use in other meals.

Participating areas included:

  • Belleville
  • Brockville
  • Kingston
  • Napanee
  • Smiths Falls
  • Trenton
  • Trent Hills

A happy Natalia Soterhoff, manager of the Smiths Falls Food Bank, shared, “It was a remarkable idea,  and it came together so perfectly. Smiths Falls clients are enjoying the meals.”

Mary Jean McKeever, Kingston Ontario District director of public affairs for the Church, shared how these hunger projects not only help celebrate Canada but also assist those in need in the surrounding areas.

She said, “Our district was asked to come up with a project that reflects our Christian values and celebrates everything that Canada is about. Sarah Lucas of the Smiths Falls congregation brought forward the idea, which has blossomed into reality.”

The Church has a large worldwide humanitarian network, and so it seemed more than appropriate to host a project that reached out to the local communities and those interested in addressing poverty and hunger among children and families.

The Mormon supporters and volunteers were joined by other compassionate and service-minded organizations and civic leaders, including:

  • Mayor David Henderson of Brockville
  • Councillor Leigh Bursey of Brockville
  • Dean Devin Payne of the Fulford Academy
  • Mayor Shawn Pankow of Smiths Falls

Employees from the Royal Bank of Canada; members of various service organizations such as the Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Perth Youth Club, Habitat for Humanity, and Loaves and Fishes; and many others, including local churches such as the Anglican and Presbyterian churches, also lent their support to the project.

The meals packaged during the event will be distributed to local schools, food banks and pantries, the Salvation Army, Loving Spoonful and local women’s shelters.

Mark Saigeon, president of the Kingston Ontario District of the Church, said, “This initiative brought together many like-minded and actively engaged community members and leaders that want to be involved in worthy and charitable acts of service. This project serves as a great example that loving, Christlike service breaks down all barriers and unifies the hearts of all involved.”

This project also forms part of the launch of JustServe, a free web service created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that matches non-profit organizations with volunteers in the community. By hosting the Feeding Children Everywhere hunger project and linking arms with the communities, the relationships developed will lead to many other opportunities to make a difference for those less fortunate.

Anyone from the community will soon be able to use the JustServe website to find local opportunities to serve. Volunteer and service-oriented organizations are also invited to upload their service needs.

McKeever said, “As Christians, it is our mandate to ‘feed the hungry and clothe the naked.’ We don’t believe in a handout; we believe in a hand up. Having enough to eat each day is critical to achieving that.”

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