This city's hungry benefited this Christmas season from a donation of 158,000 pounds of food from the Church, being distributed through 26 religious and charitable organizations.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said in a news conference recently: "I applaud The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this generous donation of food to feed Atlanta's most needy. I challenge other organizations and businesses in our city to step forward to develop similar programs to feed Atlanta's hungry...God has blessed us with good weather, blessed us with a compassionate spirit and blessed us with 158,000 pounds of food. As we tough more people, they will be uplifted by that. Think about the children who will be touched by this compassion in this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Young children will be able to say, "There are those who care about what happens to me." And they will have a better spirit about lifting themselves out of the shackles of poverty, and that's what it's all about."The donation included canned fruits and vegetables, flour, juices, frozen meats, dry milk, cheese and honey.
Several local Church welfare leaders attended the news conference, which was called by the mayor's office.
Jonesboro Georgia Stake Pres. Bryce D. Gibby, who serves as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Welfare Committee, addressed the mayor and his staff, journalists and representatives from the charity groups who received the food.
Pres. Gibby remarked: "Following the pattern found in the Bible, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has established a system of storehouses to care for the poor and needy. The food in these storehouses is grown on our farms and canned in our canneries..
"We strive to follow the example of Christ in relieving human suffering. As Christians, we are grateful for the many churches and organizations who likewise minister to the less-fortunate, such as the charities represented here today, and we're please to assist them as our resources allow. We believe literally in the Master, when He said: "I was hungered and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink." The Lord concluded by saying, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.""
In a previous meeting with the mayor, Pres. Gibby explained that the Church's welfare program was organized in 1936 to supplement the efforts of individual members and Church leaders in providing Christian service.
While observing Church members loading cases of food into the trucks of other churches and charities, Atlanta Police Department Chaplain Kevin Lewis remarked, "From a religious perspective it is wonderful to see all of us come together, not simply because of denomination, but because of our faith in God and our desire to serve and to be a light for God."
The Church has made a major commitment to families in the city of Atlanta by locating a resource center in the metro area to help members with employment skills and job placement.
The Church has also offered the use of its local cannery operations, free of charge, to any qualified charity that can use the facility, according to Sid Handcock, service center manager for the storehouse system, Southeast.