NEW YORK CITY Six pairs of missionaries serving in the Staten Island 1st Ward area of New York City canvassed surrounding neighborhoods July 22 soliciting food donations to aid the dwindling supplies of a local food pantry.
A newspaper article in the Staten Island Advance, titled "Missionaries from everywhere find their way to Island," appeared a week before the food drive introducing the missionaries and advising New Yorkers how to participate.
Elder James Laveo, who was born in Samoa and later moved to Utah, initiated the project. Along with other missionaries, he serves two hours a week at the food pantry. He felt prompted to act after watching foodstuffs dwindle while the line of needy recipients grew longer each week.
Based on food drives they had participated in as young men in the Aaronic Priesthood, the missionaries promoted the food drive by delivering fliers and displaying poster boards.
Some residents weren't interested in helping, but others a few doors down the road would offer what they could. Still others invited the missionaries to return for more donations.
"Service is often the best way to show others the joy of the gospel," said President Steven D. Bennion of the New York New York South Mission. "Missionaries serving in Staten Island have learned this. . . . With our missionaries sensing a need and enthusiastically offering help, many have been touched. Timely service is indeed a powerful way to touch hearts and lives."
"I estimate that the elders collected 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food. That will feed about 600 families," said Wendy De Shong, founder of the non-profit New Directions Services, Inc. "It was a Godsend. The missionary's service really helps the needs of the people of Staten Island. I have many scrapbooks of the more than 200 missionaries that have worked at our food pantry for the past six years."
Staten Island, one of five boroughs of New York City, has 450,000 residents from numerous ethnic backgrounds.