The nine Raleigh branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are now in their seventh year uniting on what they call a month of service.
It’s not a month-long church service. It is the LDS Church Raleigh stake’s version of a Day of Service project that raises food and funds to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. The project also helps supply the food bank with other goods to help keep families afloat.
“People don’t realize there’s baby, infant needs the food bank takes care of as well,” said Robin Covert, director of public affairs for the Raleigh stake. “There’s not just food. There’s diapers and other things people need.”
The most recent drive began with outreach in January before concluding with a collection date on March 29. The nine total wards in Knightdale, Raleigh, Wake Forest and Zebulon combined to supply the food bank with about 30,750 pounds of food and supplies and $400 in cash donations.
The Knightdale church, which houses two congregations, gathered about 10,000 pounds of supplies this year, and the single-congregation Zebulon church added about 2,600 pounds. The remaining congregations, three in both Raleigh and Wake Forest, collected the other 18,150 pounds of goods.
As soon as the month of service event ends, its organizers begin working on the next year’s drive.
“Even though we just finished a couple weeks ago, we’re already working on corporate sponsors and other things for our 2015 date,” Covert said.
Closer to the actual food drive, held each spring, church members begin reaching out to their neighbors to join the effort. They then distribute lists of items needed by the food bank and collection bags, and support starts to snowball.
This year’s drive saw participation from businesses, homeowners associations, schools and local Scout Troops. Collection bins were utilized at some of the fixed locations.
The food drive is co-chaired by Steve and Teri Hanna, who live outside the Pilot community near Zebulon and attend the Zebulon church.
Teri Hanna said the initiative isn’t only about helping others. It’s about creating a sense of community, she said.
“I see the need as grocery store prices are going up every time I go, and it’s harder for people to afford groceries,” she said. “I know it gets tougher on everyone’s budget, especially the families with children.
“The more the community can donate and help, the more it strengthens those families and those who help. It strengthens the community to be able to open our hearts and be able to help the community. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to teach your children to be generous and not selfish.”
But the notion of helping others is the exact notion the project was founded on, according to Covert. He said the church headquarters in Salt Lake City proposed something that would be a service to the community.
“Our local leaders here felt helping the poor and those in need of food would be a good thing we could do,” Covert said. “We’re trying to get it to be a community activity. Since we’ve done it, we’ve had some pretty bad recessions the economy has been going through so it’s been pretty needed in our area.”
While this year’s collection event has passed, the food drive organizers keep their doors open all year to those interested in joining their cause.
Any groups or individuals interested in donating to the food drive through goods or services should email Steve Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org@email.com.