Dozens of high school volunteers and others sorted what they said was about 10 tons of donated food and supplies last week at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saugus, and they then distributed the donations to local charities.
According to Angela Haycock of Santa Clarita’s JustServe, a community resource that LDS sponsors, the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City had goods that they usually give to church members, but it had grown to an abundance, so they decided to help those in need who do not belong to the church.
“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Haycock said. “The church has farms and canneries and orchards and things like that. It produces the food, and then cans it, stores it, and they had a surplus, and so they’re passing it out — just trying to help where they can — to communities that need it.”
The Bishops’ Central Storehouse typically keeps food and other goods for church members who are struggling and could use some help while getting back on their feet, Haycock said. Upon hearing the church’s plans to donate outside the church, Haycock called around Santa Clarita Valley to see who could use some assistance.
“On our side, we gave to six different organizations that will pass it out to people,” Haycock said. She added that LDS in Saugus shared some of the load with one of the church’s Valencia locations.
The organizations that JustServe helped, according to Haycock, included the William S. Hart Union High School District, the Sulphur Springs Union School District, the SCV Food Pantry, the Family Promise of Santa Clarita homeless service, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church and Queen of Angels Catholic Church.
From the Hart district, the Parent Awareness Workshops and Support (PAWS) Center at Golden Valley High School used the supplies to stock up their annex on campus, according to the group’s resource coordinator April Rego. She’s grateful for LDS.
“They have been extremely generous and helpful in meeting the needs of our center that provides free resources, food, clothing, school supplies, toiletries and or anything we can for our students, families and staff,” Rego said.
She added that PAWS receives anywhere from five to 10 students, parents and sometimes staff members asking for help each day. The group, she said, relies solely on community donations to help these people. According to Rego, the goods that LDS gave literally stuffed the PAWS annex.
Haycock said the church gave nonperishable items only — pallets full of them.
“The semi arrived in the morning and dropped off the pallets, and we had missionaries from our church and some other volunteers come and dismantle the pallets, and put some back on the semi — the stuff we were sharing with Valencia,” Haycock said. “And then, later, a youth group — a group of our youth — came and they basically divided it all up so that every organization got a variety of items.”
These volunteers sorted thousands of dollars’ worth of goods by hand that came off 15 pallets, according to Haycock, and they divided it up among the six groups they were helping and loaded it on the truck going out. Items included 68 cases of beef stew and 80 cases of canned peaches. And there were also boxes of macaroni and cheese, rice, spaghetti, salsa, bags of sugar, diapers and sanitary napkins.
“There was a guy there from Sulphur,” Haycock said. “And he had a pallet jack, and he says, ‘You know, we could’ve loaded all this stuff back on pallets and used our pallet jack to get it on the truck, but these kids were having so much fun, we just let them load it.’”
LDS gave so much to those outside the church, yet they still have more to give.
“They’re sharing it with people all around the country,” Haycock said. “But I know here, in Southern California, we received a lot. Still, they’re planning on more this year.”
That’s more goods to those in need who don’t even belong to the church. But there’s such a need, according to Haycock, and so many people in this valley who are hungry. In the end, she said, the church is looking to help. And that’s ultimately why they do this.
For more information about JustServe and the service opportunities they provide, go to JustServe.org. Anybody can sign up for the opportunities available.