My name is Jacob Paulsen and in the last two weeks, I was able to witness something that changed my life.

My wife and I were both born and raised in Southern Wyoming and as such we have connections to The University of Wyoming. My father received his master’s degree from UW and both my father in law and mother in law have received multiple degrees from UW.

Now living in Colorado, I work as a volunteer to coordinate with local and regional media outlets when news stories involving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are covered.

Several weeks ago I received a phone call informing me that there may be some media interest in an upcoming food donation that the church was involved with in partnership with The Black 14 Philanthropy organization.

I had to dust off my Wyoming roots and do a little research to refresh my memory.

Before it was a non-profit organization to support schools, university, black student athletes and underserved communities the Black 14 were just 14 University of Wyoming football players.

In 1969, these 14 football players approached their football coach Lloyd Eaton and asked permission to wear black armbands during the upcoming home game against BYU.

As this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns and operates BYU, had a policy that excluded black people from the priesthood of the church and many athletes on other teams had worn black armbands to silently protest against that policy.

The church, through revelation to the prophet, changed it’s policy less than a decade later but in 1969 these 14 players were caught by surprise when they went into Eaton’s office to request permission to wear the armbands.

Coach Eaton immediately dismissed them from the team. The loss of these players was a devastating blow to the team. At the time of the incident the Cowboys were undefeated and ranked 16th in the AP Poll. It was all downhill from there and many feel that 50 years later the team has yet to fully recover.

Black 14 Member & future New England Patriots player Tony McGee drinks water during practice at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. on Sept. 3, 1981. (Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In 1971, when my father and mother in law attended UW they have memories of walking through picket lines to get to the church owned institute where they took religious classes near the campus. The wound was fresh and in many ways for some The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became to target of the frustration and scorn of UW football.

The Church didn’t kick the players off their team. Coach Eaton did based on the school’s “no protesting” policy.

In the mid 1980s my father attended UW to complete his masters degree. He finished his undergrad at BYU and while living in Southern Wyoming spent several summers in Laramie to finish his masters degree.

He tells me he may be one of very few people in this country who can say (or dares to mention it out loud), that he has a degree from both BYU and UW. Nearly 15 years after the incident the wounds hadn’t healed for many at the University of Wyoming.

Fast forward a few decades. In the fall of 2019, appx 50 years after the incident, The University of Wyoming invited back the Black 14 to speak to students, attend a special dinner, receive an official apology letter, and receive jerseys and letterman jackets.

At a football game attended by the eight players that returned the student body that consists of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints wore Black 14 T-shirts during the game.

In 2020, members of the Black 14 saw the need for food to be donated to help those who are suffering during this pandemic as we enter the holiday season.

Working with Gifford Nielson, President of the Church’s North America Central Area, the Black 14 made an arrangement that many may consider a miracle.

The church agreed to donate and deliver 360,000 pounds of food across the US to cities and local charities selected by surviving members of The Black 14.

John Griffin, a member of the Black 14 who resides in Denver selected Catholic Charities of Denver to be one of those recipients. So on November 17th at 9:00 AM a Deseret Industries semi-truck pulled into the Salvation Army Warehouse in Aurora.

Representatives of The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Denver Rescue Mission, and John Griffin and his family. Nov 17th, 2020 Aurora, CO

Catholic Charities who lacked a large enough storage facility called on The Salvation Army to receive and store the food donation long enough for it to be distributed to various food banks and organizations across the metro including the Denver Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and various Food banks and ministries.

From here I don’t need to tell the rest of the story. The local media has done so for me. Below I include some of the video news coverage and a link to The Denver Post.

I end my part of this story by telling you that time can not only heal wounds but also turn hearts toward each other. As I look back at my own family’s history as proud members of a Church that provides vast relief to people affected by tragedy; and the many UW degrees proudly displayed in homes on both sides of my family; it all has come full circle for me as the charity of Christ conquers all.

CBS Denver Nov 17th, 2020

9News Denver Nov 26th, 2020

KWGN 2 News Nov 17th, 2020


In 2020 Colorado experienced record-breaking wildfires in several parts of the state. According to VolunteerFirefighter.org Colorado has a total of 418 Volunteer fire departments and recruits approximately 3,500 additional volunteer emergency responders to be fully staffed.

Pine Gulch Fire on August 8th, 2020. Image Courtesy of The Denver Post

These volunteer departments are dependent on community donations and occasional grants. As fires rage across the state these teams are overwhelmed, understaffed, and underequipped.

In these circumstances Janelle Cluff and Michelle Roethig, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided to take action. With the help of other sisters in their local congregation, and many neighbors who responded to Facebook posts, they amassed a large number of items.

Donated items included 18 cases of bottled water, 278 bottles of sports drinks, 88 bottles of eye drops, 56 packages of Mentholated cough drops, 126 packages of baby wipes, 204+ packs of Kleenex, 193 tubes of chapstick, 83 bottles of various sizes of Gold Bond powder, 90 tubes of diaper rash cream, 46 individual hand warmers, 4 nasal sprays, and too many granola bar / jerky / snack items too count.

Across the metro in Arvada, sisters of a different congregation had the same idea.

Ami Paulsen volunteered her home for a drop off point and was overwhelmed by the number of strangers in her neighborhood who responded to a request on Facebook by dropping off various supplies.

“In the middle of a pandemic neighbors and strangers gave willingly to support the brave men and women who are fighting to save homes.”

This donation went toward the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department.

RIST CANYON VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT.

Liisa Payne who dropped off the supplies said, “The firefighters were overwhelmed with gratitude for our donations, both the hard supplies and the cash donations. As they unloaded our truck, they noticed a couple thank you notes someone had written to them and they stopped to take pictures of each little note.”


The world has turned a bit upside down. Despite attempts at normalcy, COVID-19 is front and center. Busy, popular hang outs are strangely quiet, families on walks make wide berth for passersby, and general traffic is much lighter than usual. 

The good news, though, is that there is always good news. Charity in action is a constant. Signs of the goodness of others, and the ways humanity shows loving kindness appear daily. 

One simple method of continual service is seen through the birth of the Pray Act Trust movement (see PrayActTrust.com or follow #PrayActTrust on social) begun by Denver’s local clergy leaders. Each day of April brings an opportunity to join in group prayer (via public conference call), perform an individual act of service, and show trust in God throughout the process. Examples of service range from doing yard work for a neighbor, calling someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, or even chalking the neighborhood sidewalk with messages of hope and optimism. 

Pastor Del Phillips of The House Worship Center has taken the lead on the initiative. He reports, “Finding triumph in the midst of tragedy is not unfamiliar to people of faith.  In moments of tragedy we discover what is inside of us. The present pandemic tragedy has disclosed we are all born from the same flesh and blood fabric when faced with a virus that ignores race, creed, or color.  We have learned that people are willing to put themselves in harm’s way knowing there is no way to avoid the commitment they made to put others before themselves.  This tragedy has produced evidence to prove when we want to work together, working together empowers us to Pray, Act, and to Trust God.”

Another quiet way that service has been provided is the recent arrival of 9,600 rolls of toilet paper. The most publicized staple to be missing from shelves, toilet paper has become the hallmark of preparedness in this pandemic. Blessedly, coordination between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Denver Mayor Hancock’s Faith Council helps alleviate the problem for high risk citizens in the Denver area. Local non-profit senior centers will now be able to provide basic toiletry needs for thousands of people. 

Craig McIlroy, Director of Denver South Area Communication Council was on hand to help with  a delivery of a busload of 100 boxes of toilet paper to a senior living center. Having also helped coordinate the arrival of large food orders to local food banks, he is being the goodness in action. Unheralded by most, but very much appreciated, these gracious acts of service are given without expectation of reciprocity. Of the experience McIlroy reports, “It’s been a heartwarming experience. The ability to do something that means so much to others was really special.” 

Between the prayers, simple daily service, and the bus filled with toilet paper, all stories simply add to the illustration of living charity. While the COVID-19 case numbers grow, so does something else: people showing up with love. In spite of things turning upside down or backwards, facing towards the Savior continues to manifest in showing love for one another. 


You have probably heard by now that this year Denver will be a host city for the much sought after “Giving Machines.”

Some of the items available in a Giving Machine in 2018

What follows is a summary of the core information about the Giving Machines in Denver this year.

Where Are The Machines Located?

3 Machines will be installed in a single location in Downtown Denver. They will be hosted at Writer Square on the 16th St Mall. The address is 1504 Larimer Street. Click here for more information about the location, parking, and public transportation.

When Can I Visit The Machines?

The machines will be officially opened at 11 am on Nov 26th and will then be available daily from 9 am to 11 pm through January 1st.

How Do The Machines Work?

The machines are set up just like a vending machine. Foam cards are in the vending machine racks that represent the individual items available to donate.

When you make a donation at the machine one of the cards representing the item(s) you donated will fall down into a collection area.

The actual donations are counted electronically and the individual charities receive the donation checks from The Church of Jesus Christ after the new year.

What Can I Donate At The Machines?

At the machines, six different charities are represented and each has five items available that you can donate. The six charities include 4 local organizations and two global ones.

Charities:

  • Black Child Development Institute
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver
  • Rose Andom Center
  • Mile High Ministries
  • Water for People
  • CWS Global

Click here to learn more about each organization.

Items available for donation range in cost from $3 to $300 and any single transaction is limited to $1500.

Click here to see the full detailed list of every item available for donation.

How Much Of My Donation Will The Charity Receive?

100% of your donation will go toward the thing you donated. For an example of you donate a pig, which is a $100 donation here is what happens with those funds:

You pay $100. Credit card merchants charge a transaction fee that varies between 2 and 5% so for example if the fee were 5% then $95 would be received into the LDS Charities fund.

The church covers that transaction fee and provides $100 to the designated charity.

If that charity has administrative fees or costs necessary in order to get the piglet to the end consumer those will also be covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints up to 10% (and the charities do not have administrative costs in excess of 10%). So the Church would cut a check to the charity for $110 and $100 of that $110 will purchase piglets.

The long story short is that your exact dollar donation amount will go toward the thing you donated.

What Forms Of Payment Are Accepted?

All major credit cards are accepted. You cannot donate using cash or check.

Can I Donate Without Visiting The Machines?

Each of the charities represented accepts donations directly. If you are unable to visit the machines in person we encourage you to contact one or more of these charities directly to make a donation.

There is no way to donate via the machines without visiting the machines

How Can I Prepare For My Visit To The Machines?

If possible visit the machines during the day. During evening hours and weekends, lines are expected and wait times will be longer.

Visit this website and plan out your donation in detail to limit how long it will take you to make your actual donation at the machines. Given the anticipated wait lines, making your donation plans in advance will help limit how long others will have to wait in line.

Plan to snap a few pictures and share your experience with your friends and networks on social media and via other electronic communication!

How Can I Volunteer And Help With The Machines?

Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have already been assigned to man the machines and help visitors make their donations.

If you are interested in bringing a large group, providing music for those visiting the machines, handing out materials, or otherwise contributing to the effort please contact your Stake’s Public Affairs Director or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this webpage.

The biggest and most significant way to support the Giving Machines effort is to invite a friend or neighbor to visit the machines with you and make a donation. Then share your experience with others.

Lastly, remember the giving machines are a small part of the larger #LightTheWorld campaign of the Church, encouraging all people worldwide to serve others the way Jesus Christ did.

Visit lighttheworld.org and learn more about how you can spread the light of Christ this holiday season!


Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and friends at the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert

It was a big weekend for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, and Denver South Area Public Affairs Director Craig McIlroy accompanied Mayor Hancock to Salt Lake City for a red carpet weekend. Activities kicked off with a tour of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse.

Shawn Johnson and Mayor Hancock prepare care packages

Not your average service mart, Mayor Hancock was blown away by “so expansive an undertaking.” With the idea that so much of the needed goods are paid for through members’ fast offerings, Pastor Del Phillips, who accompanied Mayor Hancock, said he felt inspired to implement Fast Sundays and Fast Offerings with his congregation. Home to thousands of pounds of food, its own trucking line, and many unique features that enable the Church to be first on the scene at natural disasters, the Bishop’s Storehouse is an impressive sight.

Elder Priday shows Mayor Hancock the Light the World giving machines

Next on the agenda was lunch at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The team got to visit the charity vending machines unique to the Christmas season and used in connection with Light the World. Buyers can choose to give a goat, fresh water, or a myriad of other necessities to people in need around the world. After Mayor Hancock’s introduction to these vending vehicles for good, maybe Denver can be home to a giving machine next Christmas.

 

Mayor Hancock receives instruction at the Family History Center

After lunch, Mayor Hancock was introduced to Salt Lake City’s Family History Center. With one on one attention, he and his associates had access to millions of records, including access to the Freedman’s Bureau. On the trip with Mayor Hancock was Shawn Johnson, Director of Community Relations. She reports being pleased to “have the opportunity to dig deeper into [our] family’s roots.”

Saving the best for last, Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and their teams rounded out their evening with dinner and a show. Dinner was hosted by Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy. He presented each couple with their own “Faith in Every Footstep” sculpture. Dinner was followed by the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert. This was a highlight for multiple reasons. Earlier that day, the USOC announced Salt Lake City as the US nominee for a future Winter Olympics games. Mayor Hancock was able to congratulate Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski in person at the conference center.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy hosts Denver guests for dinner before the show

 

Tale of Two Cities – Denver Mayor Hancock and SLC Mayor Biskupski meet

The biggest highlight was of course hearing Christmas music sung by the Tabernacle Choir. While beautiful in and of itself, the icing on the cake was enjoying special guest artist Kristin Chenoweth sing. Her first number received a standing ovation. Brother McIlroy reported, her presence was “breathtaking from start to finish.”

One year ago, Elder Priday and Brother McIlroy first met Mayor Hancock in his office. Since then, their relationship has blossomed with joint ventures in community service, working together on a faith council, and attending musical events together. Said Elder Priday, “We were able to have substantive discussions with the mayor and his team that will build significant goodwill and relationships for the Church in this area for years to come. It was apparent that they had been touched by the Holy Spirit.”

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Denver Stake Youth and leaders recently helped prepare nearly 1,700 lbs.of food to donate to Metro Caring. The representatives from Metro Caring were beyond thrilled. One of the food coordinators said, “Wow! This is better than I could have imagined!” when LDS volunteers pulled up with two vans full of food.