How the Black 14 and church are (still) putting the giving into Thanksgiving

This article was first published as the ChurchBeat newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox weekly.

Last year, I reported the backstory of how the surprising partnership between the Black 14 and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moved mountains of food across the United States to those in need at Thanksgiving.

The two groups were at it again this past week.

How the ‘Black 14’ and Latter-day Saints became partners moving mountains of food to those in need

The Black 14 are the 14 football players at the University of Wyoming who were kicked off the team the day before their 1969 game with BYU for approaching their coach about whether they could wear black armbands during the game to silently protest a since-removed church policy against Blacks holding the priesthood.

Last year, a former BYU quarterback, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy, was part of helping arrange 180 tons of food donations from the church to nine cities across the country in the names of the Black 14.

“That wound that was pretty significant 51 years ago has healed, and what we’re doing is pretty special,” wide receiver John Griffin said.

Last week, the church and the Black 14 teamed up again. About 40,000 pounds of food from the church’s Bishops’ Storehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, were delivered to the Cathedral Home for Children and the University of Wyoming Food Share Pantry, reported Wyoming News Now.

Griffin was on hand for the delivery.

“We have turned a tragedy into philanthropy, and that is what we are going to ride the rest of our lives, because it is important to us,” he said.

Meanwhile, news outlets around the country are doing stories on the church’s Giving Machines, the popular vending machines it has set up in 10 American cities. Instead of buying a soda pop or candy bar, these vending machines accept charitable donations for items from eyeglasses to feeding a hungry person for a month. Or as one headline put it, the vending machines become giving machines “where people can donate chickens, blankets, boots or basketballs.”

What Utah Gov. Cox and his family purchased at the opening of the City Creek Giving Machines

Stories have been published from New York to California and Hawaii.

Both of those efforts to give also serve as a reminder of last year’s video message of hope, healing and unity issued by President Russell M. Nelson. He invited people to share gratitude on social media with the hashtag #GiveThanks.

As the Church News podcast noted this week, that hashtag became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter and reached No. 2 worldwide.

As American Latter-day Saints celebrate a long holiday weekend, I give thanks for you readers and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

My recent stories

First look: Provo Latter-day Saint temple will have dramatic new design (Nov. 24)

With Christus statue removed, crews begin to demolish North Visitors’ Center at Temple Square (Nov. 19)

What I’m reading

The BYU runner who won the NCAA women’s cross-country championship last weekend had led the race last time before dropping to 17th. After winning this time, she said, “The setback does help with the comeback.” A returned missionary won the men’s NCAA championship, too.

The Latter-day Saint woman who led all of American professional soccer in goals this year just won the National Women’s Soccer League championship with her team. She is a Young Women adviser in her ward in Virginia.

What you need to know about changes to temple recommends.

The church has created new guides for Young Women leadership callings.

If you like to dig deep into American football strategy, here’s a deep dive into a change that this piece says is revolutionizing quarterback play.

I’m fascinated by the question this article explores, “As DNA analysis redefines ancestry and anonymity, what knowledge should we be permitted to unlock?”