Of the many impacts that coronavirus has had on our community, the nationwide shortfall at food banks may be one of the most devastating. Over 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks. The exponential increase in demand for food is unfortunately met by a drop in donations. Some of the major sources of food donations – hotels and restaurants – are shut down, while another source – grocery stores – have been picked clean by anxious customers. There is, of course, the good will of the community, and that is exactly what came to the rescue this week. Despite the dire situation of many Americans, the Denver Area was boosted by goodwill in a food drive held last weekend.

As the First Presidency reminded its membership in church-wide communication April 14, 2020, “We are to be “anxiously engaged” in relieving suffering and helping those in need.” They further stated, “We invite our members to participate in… relief projects in their areas and communities as opportunities arise and as local government directives and personal circumstances allow.” Denver Area residents responded to the First Presidency’s message and the needs of local food banks with rousing success. 

Starting Saturday, April 25 and ending Saturday, May 2, 13 stakes helped restock food and pantry essentials for over 20 area food banks. With just over a week’s notice, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped refill empty shelves with food, paper goods, and even masks. Over a hundred thousand pounds of food were donated, and tens of thousands of dollars came in as well. Each stake was able to supplement the needs of one or several of their local food banks. The Parker Task Force, recipients of Parker and Parker South Stake’s efforts, reported that their total donations more than made up for the two food drives they’ve had to cancel (scheduled for April and June). Boulder Stake’s donations calculated enough to feed 30 families for a month.

As the idea was born, Katie Moon, JustServe Director for the Denver North Area, recalls feeling hopeful, but unsure about the expected response. Given the size of the task and the timeline in which she and her team hoped to meet their goals, there was no telling what result to expect. Nobody knew that they were about to pull off a miracle. The outcome was, “…nothing short of amazing. I was overwhelmed by the amount of generosity I was seeing.” For hours, the lines of cars filled with people donating kept coming. Across the Denver Metro area, rented U-Hauls, pick-up trucks, trailers, and moving vans were filled to capacity. The former scare of not being able to fill personal needs was set aside, and the needs of others took priority.

That exact re-prioritizing of needs brings a silver lining to trials. And it’s one of the ways that communities can come together. Last weekend’s food drive was no exception. Many stakes partnered with other local churches, doubling results and building relationships along the way. When he arrived to donate, Father Michael, of St. Matthews Episcopal Church, thanked the organizers for inviting him and his congregation. His sentiments mirrored those of the rest who were able to help. Moon reports, “Many people thanked us for giving them a way to help others.” Some went one step further. When they took inventory of what else was needed at their initial drop-off, they went back to the store, bought specific food items, and returned with a second load of donations.

Those were not the only steps given in service. Physical donations were supplemented with monetary donations. In Littleton Stake, volunteers were able to do the shopping for those who who couldn’t get out of their homes. This helped fill the specific item requests from their recipients, St. Mary Parish Pantry and Nourish Meals on Wheels.

Volunteers filled Costco flatbeds with food, all bought with the thousands of dollars of donations. Though household budgets are stretched tight, members of The Church of Jesus Christ dug a little deeper and donated even more. Estimated reports show at least $20K in monetary donations were raised last weekend alone. This helped address both the needs of the hungry, and the need of those who are high-risk to remain isolated. Sarah Hill, JustServe Director for Denver South Area said, “The creativity people showed in being able to do such a project in such unusual circumstances was very exciting.”

Of the generosity, Hill further said, “It was heartwarming and impressive to see so many people help. It’s a tough time for everybody, but being able to serve others is at the core of everyone’s well-being.”

While healthcare workers help those afflicted with coronavirus to breathe, Denver residents have helped in their own way. Food bank directors, and their recipients, may all be breathing a little easier themselves, as shelves are re-stocked, pantries filled, and food for the hungry has been re-supplied. The impacts of a pandemic are far-reaching. But in Denver, so is the service and brotherly love that comes with it.

Food Bank Recipients 

  1. Aurora Interfaith Community Services
  2. Bennett Community Food Bank
  3. Broomfield Fish
  4. CARES Food Bank of Strasberg
  5. Community Food Share
  6. Covenant Cupboard
  7. Erie Food Bank
  8. Growing Home
  9. Harvest Food Bank
  10. Health and Hope Center
  11. Hope Starts Here Food Bank
  12. Integrated Family Community Services
  13. Jewish Family Services
  14. Lutheran Family Services, Food Bank for Refugees
  15. Montbello Organizing Committee
  16. Northglenn Christian Food Bank
  17. Nourish Meals on Wheels
  18. Open Arms Food Bank
  19. Parker Task Force
  20. Ruby’s Market
  21. St Mary Parish Pantry
  22. Thornton Community Food Bank
  23. Valley View Cares (SECOR)

Interfaith Partners

  1. Lord of the Hills Lutheran Church
  2. Providence Presbyterian
  3. Beginnings Community Church
  4. Spirit of Hope Lutheran
  5. St. Matthews Episcopal Church
  6. The House Worship Center

Last Saturday, December 14th , the Colorado Saints Chorale put on a special holiday concert in Brighton, Colorado, titled, Joy to the World. The concert featured soloists Lauren Flauding and Victoria Olson.

There was also beautiful music provided on the strings by Chuck Skinner and Ellen Taylor (violin), Sara McFadden (cello), and Sierra Hicken on the harp.

The concert marks one of the first times the Chorale has partnered with the Brighton Colorado Stake. This was a wonderful opportunity for the group to bring their talents up North and share their message of the Savior across more of Colorado.

This magnified the mixed-voice choir’s mission as an ambassador for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And their impact was certainly felt on Saturday night. The music emanating from the choir and soloists was beautiful, and certainly warmed hearts.

But the concert also contributed to warming individuals another way–with a successful coat drive. Through a partnership with the Salvation Army, 176 coats will be distributed to those in need this Christmas.

The Brighton Stake was honored to work with Major Pease of the Salvation Army. Leslie Aldridge, Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Stake, coordinated these efforts.

All who attended felt that the whole night was a great way to celebrate the Christmas Season and the Joy the Christ Child brought to the World.


Left to right: Sister Packard, Elder Cruz, Elder Woollesen, Sister Van Tassell, Sister Reatre, Elder Hasse, Elder Blackham, Sister Draney

Elder Blackham knew it would be a sacrifice to give up his guitar and music while on his mission, but inspiration he felt in the Denver Temple gave him peace, “Give it to me and I can make it so much more.” With the help of other inspired elders and sisters, Elder Blackham was able to lend his talents to what became a beautiful musical presentation, “Meet the Missionaries.”

Presented by the Colorado Denver North Mission, “Meet the Missionaries” toured the northern front range giving 14 performances between February and April. The program is a fun, energetic, and inspiring performance. Through fifteen songs intermixed with video, four elders and four sisters shared their musical talents, their love of the Savior, and what it means to be a missionary.

President and Sister Savage both served as missionaries in Denver in the early 1980s and had the idea to renew a similar musical program that was a success on their missions. Around the same time the Book of Mormon musical came to Denver. Elder Blackham and Elder Brown pulled out their guitars and began singing on 16th Street in downtown Denver, replying to curious onlookers that they weren’t in the musical, but were the actual missionaries. From there 11 original songs were written by Elders Blackham, Brown, Fenske, and Hasse. In 2018 “Meet the Elders” went on tour.

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In the fall of 2018 one high school teen had an idea to spread the light of Christ to more people by creating a “Just Serve” club at her high school, Discover Canyon Campus.

Abbie Adams sought out the necessary signature from a principal and obtained a teacher sponsor. Then she set up a booth during their school club sign-up fair.  Sixty students signed up to participate.

This club fills an important niche in the school because there are many clubs and some classes that require the students to do service such as National Honor Society, Spanish club, ROTC as well as Civic classes there in Colorado Springs.

It also provides an opportunity for students not participating in other clubs to complete service hours for college applications and other various reasons without any requirements such as grades or expense.   

The JustServe.org Club is offering one activity per month. Most activities will be held during lunchtime in the school library. Abbie sends out meeting notifications and reminders to all participants through the app Remind.

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Jessica Carney of Arvada felt inspired to do a Christ-centered flash mob during this year’s Christmas season. She invited people from various Christian faiths and held a single rehearsal the night before.

“I want to light the mall with the true spirit of Christmas” said Jessica in the week leading up to the event. She chose the busiest day of the Christmas season and organized the event with the Flatirons mall in Broomfield Colorado.

On December 22nd at 2pm a 4 person mini orchestra began playing “Angels We Have Heard on High” for some surprised shoppers outside of the Nordstrom store in the mall. Soon a small number of voices joined in and before it was over more than 100 voices and instruments were heard singing the message of Christmas. The group included 25 to 30 missionaries and President Savage of the Denver North Mission was present to view the event.

Here is a video recording of the event:

Thank you to all who find their own way to Light the World this Christmas season!


Colorado Gives

 

For all who have volunteered time, talent or energy to others in need, it’s easy to understand the feeling of wanting to do more. You might wish for deeper pockets or unlimited resources to make your giving more significant. Today is the day where a bit of that wish comes true. December 4 is Colorado Gives Day, which means that as each of us goes online to give, our donations have potential to be magnified by the $1 Million Incentive Fund. You can help through ColoradoGives.org, a year-round, online giving website featuring more than 2,300 nonprofits. Last year brought in $36 million in a 24-hour period.

Wondering where to start? Below are a few JustServe partners who stand in extra need and would benefit from a boost on this day of giving.

 

 

Volunteers of America

The Volunteers of America provides a variety of year-round support to those in need. Areas that need the most right now include serving meals at a daytime shelter and helping with yard clean up for senior citizens. They also have several volunteer from home ideas that include writing letters to veterans, decorating bags for meals on wheels, or even putting together a craft kit for low income preschool students.

Catholic Charities

In like manner, Catholic Charities offer a variety of services and can use volunteers to help pull together. Current opportunities include helping at a women’s shelter, either serving dinner, decorating cookies, or hosting a movie night. You can also host a Christmas party for residents of Catholic Charities housing, or adopt a family for Christmas.

 

Lutheran Family Services

Lutheran Family Services (LFS) is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the Rocky Mountain region. Every year LFS responds to needs of 30,000 people. One simple but constant need is for diaper donations. Clients often have large families and always need diapers. You can also help with creating baby baskets for refugee families who are either expecting or have just had a new baby.

In this season of giving, and as we Light the World, we hope you will consider joining in this day as Colorado Gives.

 


Have you seen a few of these around? Wondering what the big deal is?

For the third year in a row, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is choosing to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas via a campaign known as “Light the World.” Each year some of the details change but there are always a few things you can count on…

  1. There will be one or more awesome videos released by the church (click here to see the first 2018 video)
  2. There will be an emphasis on SERVING others as Christ served
  3. The hashtag #lighttheworld will once again go viral on social media channels.

You can learn all about the campaign and this year’s suggestions from the Prophet by (more…)


Earlier in 2018, a group of talented missionaries put together a musical presentation called “Meet the Elders.” The presentation aimed to inspire and educate members of the church and their friends and neighbors about the life and goals of a missionary.

During the course of several weeks, the “Meet the Elders” program was presented 6 different times across the Denver Metro from Parker to Boulder. Now the studio recordings of the songs featured in the program have been released.

This music was performed by:

Elder Brenden Blackham
Elder Connor Brown
Elder Alex Hasse
Elder Jacob Fenske

It is being published here with their permission.

Use the links below to download the MP3 files for each individual song to your computer or mobile device.

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