This family affair is something that happens three nights a week at the Tucson Bishop’s Storehouse facility as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteer their time to help feed those in need. Each one pound scoop of white “Rice/Arroz” is lovingly put into a plastic bag, along with a little white cooking instruction slip in both English and Spanish with a brief statement that the food is provided through the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and repacked by volunteers from the six stakes of the Church in the Tucson area.
The Community Food Bank and the Tucson members of the Church of Jesus Christ have been quiet partners in this process for years, ever since the original director, Charles “Punch” Woods connected up with the local Church leadership to help supply valuable man-hours that is so hard to usually mobilize on a community-wide basis. While the Food Bank supplies the pallets of rice, it is estimated that the service provided by the dozens of Church members saves the community nearly $250,000 a year.
On this warm June night, 40 people showed up from the Tucson Sign Language and Spanish congregations, along with others from the Tucson East Stake. Some came from their university studies, some from work, and others, who are retired and spend two to three days each week to help at the facility, gave an extra hour of their time. Up to 60 people usually work, side by side, packaging rice and beans for those who need it the most. This night, nearly 1,200 people will be fed from the hard work of the volunteers.
In the past, some nonprofit leaders have expressed their amazement at the volunteering spirit of the Mormons, wishing their industry and community involvement could be cloned. But, as Church leaders point out, it is not so remarkable when it is remembered that members of The Church of Jesus Christ believe that when they are serving others they are also serving their God. This belief is what drives Mormons to provide service to both their congregations and their community.