Manitoba Mormons and Friends Work Together as Good Neighbours

Manitoba Mormons and Friends Work Together as Good Neighbours

News Story

“Friendly Manitoba” is the motto proudly displayed on the provincial motor vehicle licence plate. Residents of the province, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, strive to live up to this adage. In 2017, Church and community members have created new friendships while serving those in need.

In April, over 150 Mormon youth and leaders enthusiastically volunteered with Rainbow Community Garden in Winnipeg, working alongside newcomer families to help prepare garden plot areas for the growing season. The community garden is a place where over 100 immigrant families can grow their own food, especially food from their home countries that they cannot normally buy in Manitoba. Youth and leaders gratefully rendered service and hoped that their contribution would not only prepare the soil for the physical planting of seeds but also sow seeds of friendship and greater appreciation for newcomers and their needs and interests.

Ethan Gruninger, one of the Mormon youth leading the service project, commented on the partnership with Rainbow Garden: “We are all here to gain experience and grow together. We hope we are able to help new immigrants get going in life.”

In May, Church members hosted a community personal preparedness conference entitled “Thriving in Today’s Economy.” Members of the Church and community specialists presented workshops on topics relating to personal, financial and spiritual well-being.

Shelly Legault, a community participant, expressed her appreciation: “I liked the conference. The information was useful and could help people feel in control of their life.”

June marked the 12th annual Latter-day Saint food drive and third annual community block party for Winnipeg Harvest. Over 500 volunteers from the Church and community delivered 60,000 tent cards for the food drive. Community members involved in this year’s efforts included the Girl Guides, local government officials and interfaith friends. Attendance at the community block party was the highest to date, with strong representation from the South Winnipeg community.

Belle Jarniewski, president of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, stated, “Many of our religions share a tradition of fasting at particular times of the year. The hunger we experience on these days is temporary — we know we will soon break our fasts surrounded with family and friends. However, many Canadians are not as fortunate. In a country such as ours, hunger is simply not acceptable.” Summertime can be a struggle for the food bank and food donations. Kate Brenner, managing director at Winnipeg Harvest, said, “The dedication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the community is amazing, especially during the summer season, when donations take a dip.”

Rocky Baronins, a long-time Winnipeg Harvest volunteer and a leader in the Church, commented, “For us, the annual food drive and block party for Winnipeg Harvest is a chance to not only work together to do some good but also give back to a community that has given us so much.”

In addition to the food raised from 60,000 households, nearly 33,000 pounds of food items from the Lethbridge, Alberta, bishops’ storehouse was donated this year, bringing the 2017 total to 129,270 pounds. To date, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has raised 832,362 pounds of food for Winnipeg Harvest. All of this was made possible by the efforts of hard-working Church members and community friends.

Indeed, Manitoba Mormons continue to strive to live true to the “Friendly Manitoba” motto as they follow the example of the world’s greatest friend, Jesus Christ. Christ taught, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

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