by Chris Young, Diocese of Salt Lake City
The Saint Olaf Ladies of Charity (LOC) in Bountiful and the Our Lady of Lourdes Ladies of Charity in Salt Lake City distributed 102 backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need as they returned to school. The backpacks were donated to the Ladies of Charity by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Centerville Humanitarian Service Room. Each of the backpacks contained three notebooks, pencils, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, a ruler and scissors. The LOC distributed the backpacks to more than 100 children in the 95 families they serve each month by providing them with a supplemental box of food.
The relationship between the LOC and the Humanitarian Service Room began two years ago when the LDS organization’s supervisors, Bennett and Ailsa Peterson, met Daughter of Charity Sister Germaine Sarrazin one day in the Bountiful City Post Office. Sister is the LOC moderator. Bennett approached her thinking that, as a religious sister, “she must serve the poor,” he said. “It’s been a spiritual experience just being associated with her.”
The Humanitarian Service Room doesn’t directly serve the poor, but helps those who do.
“I get emotional when I think about how Sr. Germaine has given 52 years of her life to helping the poor,” said Bennett. “They provide us with gently used books and homemade educational folder games for children,” said Sr. Germaine. “On Mother’s Day and at Christmas, they also give us about 80 large personal care baskets for mothers. They have even given us personal care baskets for men, and each year at Christmas they give us boxes of hand-made comforters, quilts, baby blankets, stocking caps, scarves and gloves.”
The Petersons were asked by the LDS Church to be active in outreach when they were called to supervise the Centerville Humanitarian Service Room. With the help of volunteers and resources, they assist charitable organizations. “Since 2009, we have developed the family personal care baskets, which are small laundry baskets filled with hygiene and grooming items that are put together by LDS Relief Society groups,” Bennett said. “The pattern for the school backpack was originally a big purse, but the Relief Society women refined the pattern into a backpack, a more cool way to wear it,” he said. “We have Relief Society group and Eagle Scouts doing these projects all the time.”
The Ladies of Charity Center of Hope is now easy to find with its new blue awning. They were previously hard to find and almost unknown in their location in North Salt Lake. The North Salt Lake mayor and officials met with the Ladies of Charity officers and Sr. Germaine last October after discovering their presence when they saw a Utah Food Bank truck delivering food. “They wanted to know how they could help, and what we needed most was to make our presence known,” said Sr. Germaine. “The previous awning read Card Sharks. Then because the Utah Food Bank was the recipient of $700,000 from Walmart’s Fighting Hunger contest on Facebook in February, they granted requests to help food pantries. We requested a commercial refrigerator, and it arrived in June.” The Ladies of Charity can now accept and distribute yogurt, butter, cheese, eggs and milk to add to the other food staples such as beans, rice and peanut butter.
The Center of Hope opened as a food pantry in May of 2010, on the second Saturday of each month for four hours for people from North Salt Lake, West Bountiful and Woods Cross. About 15 families receive food from the pantry each month or emergency food boxes for families in need. The St. Olaf LOC supplies about 75 boxes of food to 65 families at an at-risk school. Our Lady of Lourdes LOC delivers 30 boxes to 20 families in their homes, with larger families receiving two boxes of food. Working with LDS has been a very rewarding experience for all of us. †