Dropping off the donations at Samaritan House

This fall, as John Fielding Toronto was preparing to plan and organize an Eagle Scout project, his father suggested that he contact Mark Hahn, who is over Volunteer and Parish Relations at Catholic Charities, for service project ideas.  Mark was a great help to John Fielding, putting him in touch with Denver’s Samaritan House, a Catholic Charities shelter for homeless members of the Denver community.  Mark also volunteered that Arvada’s St. Joan of Arc Catholic church might also be interested in announcing and supporting the project.

Inspired by these contacts, and leveraging relationships of his own, John Fielding immediately set to work organizing a project to collect travel-sized personal hygiene and other related items to be donated to the Samaritan House.  In particular, John coordinated announcements at Arvada’s St. Joan of Arc parish as well as in his own home congregation (the Arvada First Ward) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in addition to using the “Nextdoor” neighborhood social media platform and making door to door contacts throughout his own neighborhood.

Following weeks of announcements, distribution of flyers and posters, and ultimately coordination of an extensive collection process, John Fielding and a number of fellow scouts, friends and family members gathered and organized products donated for the project.

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Jessica Carney of Arvada felt inspired to do a Christ-centered flash mob during this year’s Christmas season. She invited people from various Christian faiths and held a single rehearsal the night before.

“I want to light the mall with the true spirit of Christmas” said Jessica in the week leading up to the event. She chose the busiest day of the Christmas season and organized the event with the Flatirons mall in Broomfield Colorado.

On December 22nd at 2pm a 4 person mini orchestra began playing “Angels We Have Heard on High” for some surprised shoppers outside of the Nordstrom store in the mall. Soon a small number of voices joined in and before it was over more than 100 voices and instruments were heard singing the message of Christmas. The group included 25 to 30 missionaries and President Savage of the Denver North Mission was present to view the event.

Here is a video recording of the event:

Thank you to all who find their own way to Light the World this Christmas season!


Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and friends at the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert

It was a big weekend for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, and Denver South Area Public Affairs Director Craig McIlroy accompanied Mayor Hancock to Salt Lake City for a red carpet weekend. Activities kicked off with a tour of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse.

Shawn Johnson and Mayor Hancock prepare care packages

Not your average service mart, Mayor Hancock was blown away by “so expansive an undertaking.” With the idea that so much of the needed goods are paid for through members’ fast offerings, Pastor Del Phillips, who accompanied Mayor Hancock, said he felt inspired to implement Fast Sundays and Fast Offerings with his congregation. Home to thousands of pounds of food, its own trucking line, and many unique features that enable the Church to be first on the scene at natural disasters, the Bishop’s Storehouse is an impressive sight.

Elder Priday shows Mayor Hancock the Light the World giving machines

Next on the agenda was lunch at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The team got to visit the charity vending machines unique to the Christmas season and used in connection with Light the World. Buyers can choose to give a goat, fresh water, or a myriad of other necessities to people in need around the world. After Mayor Hancock’s introduction to these vending vehicles for good, maybe Denver can be home to a giving machine next Christmas.

 

Mayor Hancock receives instruction at the Family History Center

After lunch, Mayor Hancock was introduced to Salt Lake City’s Family History Center. With one on one attention, he and his associates had access to millions of records, including access to the Freedman’s Bureau. On the trip with Mayor Hancock was Shawn Johnson, Director of Community Relations. She reports being pleased to “have the opportunity to dig deeper into [our] family’s roots.”

Saving the best for last, Mayor Hancock, Elder Priday and their teams rounded out their evening with dinner and a show. Dinner was hosted by Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy. He presented each couple with their own “Faith in Every Footstep” sculpture. Dinner was followed by the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square’s Christmas Concert. This was a highlight for multiple reasons. Earlier that day, the USOC announced Salt Lake City as the US nominee for a future Winter Olympics games. Mayor Hancock was able to congratulate Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski in person at the conference center.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy hosts Denver guests for dinner before the show

 

Tale of Two Cities – Denver Mayor Hancock and SLC Mayor Biskupski meet

The biggest highlight was of course hearing Christmas music sung by the Tabernacle Choir. While beautiful in and of itself, the icing on the cake was enjoying special guest artist Kristin Chenoweth sing. Her first number received a standing ovation. Brother McIlroy reported, her presence was “breathtaking from start to finish.”

One year ago, Elder Priday and Brother McIlroy first met Mayor Hancock in his office. Since then, their relationship has blossomed with joint ventures in community service, working together on a faith council, and attending musical events together. Said Elder Priday, “We were able to have substantive discussions with the mayor and his team that will build significant goodwill and relationships for the Church in this area for years to come. It was apparent that they had been touched by the Holy Spirit.”

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Colorado Gives

 

For all who have volunteered time, talent or energy to others in need, it’s easy to understand the feeling of wanting to do more. You might wish for deeper pockets or unlimited resources to make your giving more significant. Today is the day where a bit of that wish comes true. December 4 is Colorado Gives Day, which means that as each of us goes online to give, our donations have potential to be magnified by the $1 Million Incentive Fund. You can help through ColoradoGives.org, a year-round, online giving website featuring more than 2,300 nonprofits. Last year brought in $36 million in a 24-hour period.

Wondering where to start? Below are a few JustServe partners who stand in extra need and would benefit from a boost on this day of giving.

 

 

Volunteers of America

The Volunteers of America provides a variety of year-round support to those in need. Areas that need the most right now include serving meals at a daytime shelter and helping with yard clean up for senior citizens. They also have several volunteer from home ideas that include writing letters to veterans, decorating bags for meals on wheels, or even putting together a craft kit for low income preschool students.

Catholic Charities

In like manner, Catholic Charities offer a variety of services and can use volunteers to help pull together. Current opportunities include helping at a women’s shelter, either serving dinner, decorating cookies, or hosting a movie night. You can also host a Christmas party for residents of Catholic Charities housing, or adopt a family for Christmas.

 

Lutheran Family Services

Lutheran Family Services (LFS) is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the Rocky Mountain region. Every year LFS responds to needs of 30,000 people. One simple but constant need is for diaper donations. Clients often have large families and always need diapers. You can also help with creating baby baskets for refugee families who are either expecting or have just had a new baby.

In this season of giving, and as we Light the World, we hope you will consider joining in this day as Colorado Gives.

 


Have you seen a few of these around? Wondering what the big deal is?

For the third year in a row, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is choosing to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas via a campaign known as “Light the World.” Each year some of the details change but there are always a few things you can count on…

  1. There will be one or more awesome videos released by the church (click here to see the first 2018 video)
  2. There will be an emphasis on SERVING others as Christ served
  3. The hashtag #lighttheworld will once again go viral on social media channels.

You can learn all about the campaign and this year’s suggestions from the Prophet by (more…)


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) is encouraging people worldwide to “Light the World” by engaging in acts of service this holiday season. This is part of a series of articles we are publishing to highlight local organizations in Colorado that help make the season brighter.

One of those organizations is Christmas Unlimited. Providing service throughout the region for the last 93 years, Christmas Unlimited primarily thrives in supporting children. Last year, Christmas Unlimited served between 9,000 and 11,000 children, each receiving gifts worth $35 to $45.

Christmas Unlimited operates year round, but is in great need during the holiday season to support their Holiday Toy Distribution program. Deserving children are found by distributing applications to more than 40 human service agencies who in turn give them to families they are working with. (more…)