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by Mary Richards, church news
Members of the Oshawa Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oshawa Ontario Stake are working alongside their Muslim neighbors to pack food for those in need in their community.
On November 26, more than 120 volunteers of all ages flooded the Ontario Stake Center in Oshawa for the Light the World Heart and Hands event. They worked two shifts for several hours at a time, packing 8,100 pounds of food.
“It was a huge success,” said Lisa Whitsett, communications director for the stake. “All the people who came out to volunteer loved it.”
A humanitarian grant from the church allowed supplies to be purchased from GlobalMedic in Toronto, while the completed food boxes were donated to Feed the Need in Durham, which serves more than 70 food banks in the region.
Missionaries and members from the Oshawa District were in attendance, along with Muslim volunteers from the Masjid-e-Ayesha Mosque in Whitby and the Durham branch of the Islamic Circle of North America.
In addition to serving their neighbors, the volunteers are excited to help those in need in their own communities, Whitsitt said.
“Our goal is to talk to each other and work on this project together,” she said. Members of the Oshawa district began developing a relationship with the Muslim community a few months ago when a friend invited the bishop’s wife to an open house at a local mosque. Whitsitt went with her to meet some leaders.
They talked about doing a service event together and came up with the idea to pack and donate food.
“We’re calling this event ‘Hand in Hand’ because that’s one of our goals, to spread a little kindness and light in our community by coming together,” Whitsitt said. “This united effort is a fantastic way to ‘light up the world’.”
Ontario requires high school students to complete a certain number of hours of community service before graduation. The event provides a way for teens to earn those hours. But beyond showing up, Whitsitt said the youth volunteers “are super hard workers and really love it. They’re very engaged and very busy.”
Weeks before the event, ward leaders ordered the distribution of a Church booklet titled “Muslims and Latter-day Saints: Faith, Values and Lifestyles” to two faith groups.
Durham area newspapers reported the incident, citing volunteer Khudsiya Quadri, who was present with her family.
“It’s very important to us to show our kids that we are part of this community and that we will always be here for each other,” she said. “Whatever our religion, we are all neighbors and we should help each other in sickness, in health, in times of joy and sorrow.”
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