The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as the LDS Church, is one of the organizations that has been a huge support the food pantry this year. Of course, faith-based groups have been a big part of the Storehouse, from our founding on through today’s pandemic challenges. When people ask, “How can I help the Storehouse?,” we often ask for donations, because they help us buy food. Other key ways to give are volunteering your time and donating food. Sometimes that means hosting a food drive. The local LDS Church has done each of these activities to support our mission, volunteering weekly or even more often. In fact, the Storehouse has really come to count on LDS Church volunteers.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a long-standing practice, by both the church and the families involved, to maintain a supply of food, water and other provisions for use in an emergency. That might mean an interruption of family income or an illness. Of course, those stores of food have come in handy during the coronavirus outbreak that kept many families quarantined at home.
The faith encourages self-reliance among members. Stocking up on food and emergency provisions is part of that. The overall idea is that when people are better prepared and more self reliant, the better they are able to take care of their families and others. As the LDS church itself keeps such food stores, and they let the Storehouse have a portion of that food. In fact, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has contributed enough food to provide over 120,000 meals.
LDS Church Volunteers
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been volunteering regularly this year. The Storehouse has struggled to keep ongoing volunteers during the pandemic. To direct as much as possible to food distribution, we have a limited number of paid staff members. As part of the operations, we have always relied on a slew of volunteers to help run the food pantry. Many of those volunteers came on a regular basis, Thankfully, LDS Church volunteers, also known as service missionaries, have regularly been at the Storehouse to help.
A great example of a steady LDS Church volunteer is Elder Jarmie. He has served as a Customer Service Rep, for almost two years. Elder Jarmie helps greet our clients at the front counter. He is often the smile they see when they come to get food. He has mastered our computer system, making sure we are checking every individual into our database. That work is important. The Storehouse needs that data to report back to grantors. Elder Jarmie says, “Serving at the Storehouse allows me to help those who I normally wouldn’t meet.” During the pandemic, Elder Jarmie has seen a lot of new faces due to the unprecedented unemployment rates in our state.
Elder Ruben Hunt is among several LDS Church volunteers who has come to the pantry at least once a week for the last 5 months. Usually he comes three times a week. He is very helpful to our team. Volunteers that come frequently get to know the operation better. They have more trained in what to do and don’t need as much support. They are very valuable members of our team, and truly help make our mission possible. Elder Hunt packs food boxes, cleans, and sanitizes. He also helps push carts out for clients on days we are giving out food.
Elder Hunt expressed that he knows he is helping others, but coming to the Storehouse also improves his days. He says, “You feel better and have a great day when you focus on helping people.” When asked what he has learned from the experience, he is thoughtful. He says, “Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Doing service you often see people at their lowest point, but you see the value of them as people still.” He adds, “Service is my favorite activity.”
Encouraging Other Support
In addition to their own food donations and service, the LDS Church also helped coordinate a gift through the State of New Mexico this summer. That gift included 7,500 pounds of food and lots of helpful items like diapers and hygiene kits for the homeless. The Church has literally touched the lives of everyone from our tiniest client babies to the elderly, and everyone in between.
Swarupa Watlington, the executive director of the Storehouse, is very appreciative. She says, “The Latter Day Saints crew has been some of our best supporters this year. The missionaries provide this lightness and encouragement during very difficult times.” She and the entire Storehouse team are very appreciative of their ongoing support.