A harvest of hope for ThanksgivingNov 07, 2023 02:34PM ● By Peri Kinder
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sandy (8575 S. 700 East) donated food and gift cards to 100 Sandy Elementary students and their families during Thanksgiving last year and plans to help the students again for the upcoming holiday. (Photo courtesy of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church)
While Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with friends and family, for many people in Utah, it’s another reminder of inflation and food poverty. The Utah Food Bank reports that one in nine children in the state don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Last year, in an effort to help children during the holidays, Susan Westland, associate pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sandy (8575 S. 700 East), set out to provide Thanksgiving meals to students at Sandy Elementary (8725 S. 280 East).
The church has taken this school under its wings, providing school supplies and other resources, but Westland wanted to do more. She reached out to the school to determine which families might need extra help. Church volunteers donated money, shopped for groceries and put together Thanksgiving meals for 75 families that included all the fixings plus a $25 gift card.
“The Monday before Thanksgiving, we distributed [the food boxes],” said Carla Johnson, a church volunteer. “Once people found out what we were doing there were a lot more [who asked for help]. We did have some extra bags and then we bought 30 additional gift cards that we gave out to people just so they can have something.”
Although Westland has moved to a new calling in Arizona, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church plans to provide meals for Sandy Elementary students again this year. They estimate 100 families at the school will need food for Thanksgiving, at a cost of $45 per meal. The estimated cost will be $4,500 and Johnson said the church will accept monetary donations from the community to ensure each child has a happy Thanksgiving.
“We’re not asking that the donation has to be $45,” she said. “If there’s any financial donation that they would like to give, they can contact me or make contact with church.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving food packages, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has partnered with the Utah Food Bank to provide food at the church two Saturdays each month to help struggling families. Last year, a donor also provided the church with dozens of new coats for men, women and children, so they could be warm during the winter.
“There was just a look on these little kids’ faces when they came up and picked out a coat and we saw how appreciative they were,” Johnson said. “We’re a very community-minded church. We host the America West Symphony, we have done Family Promise, we’re a very open church.”
To donate to the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church’s Thanksgiving program for Sandy Elementary, contact Johnson at 801-550-0395 or reach out to the church at 801-255-8181. λ