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How Utah marked National Day of Service with blood and food drives, 5K races, river cleanups and more

The Day of Service came just two days after JustServe celebrated its 11th anniversary

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with interfaith, volunteer and community groups to meet a wide variety of community needs in Utah on Saturday, Sept. 10.

As part of the National Day of Service, the ChurchJustServe.org and 911day.org worked together to organize and promote the service opportunities in the state.

Curtis Bennett, co-chair of the statewide event and the Church’s JustServe representative, said the response showed, once again, why Utah is the top volunteering state in the nation. “The vision of collaborative, side-by-side service within our state on this particular day was a reality,” he said.  

Matthew Herzog, 15, of the Salt Lake Stake volunteers during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Speaking of the effort, Bennett said “every conceivable project” was pursued throughout the state: blood drives; 5K races benefiting first responders; food drives; park, city, trail and river cleanups; assembling refugee, newborn and school kits; tulip planting; cemetery cleaning; and more.

“These projects truly represent communitywide efforts involving churches, charitable organizations, cities and counties across all walks of life, ethnicity or socioeconomic circumstances,” he said.

The event follows a similar effort last year that helped commemorate the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., on 9/11. Projects will continue into the coming days and weeks.

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Henry White of the Salt Lake Stake volunteers during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

The Day of Service came just two days after JustServe marked its 11th anniversary.

JustServe.org, an online volunteer portal, was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which covers JustServe’s financial costs, as a gift to the world. Sept. 8 marked 11 years since the Church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approved its formation.

The platform’s website and app provide a free space for community organizations to post their service needs and give volunteers a centralized listing of local service opportunities.

Volunteers work during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Since the portal’s beginning, more than 660,000 volunteers have registered for more than 130,000 projects, according to “Caring for Those in Need,” the 2021 Annual Report of the Church of Jesus Christ. More than 13,500 nonprofit, government, religious and community organizations use the platform.

JustServe.org was launched in February 2012 in Silicon Valley, California, and has since expanded to 12 countries and territories: Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Spain and the United Kingdom. This year, France was added to the list, and Chile will come online in October.

Olivia Vander Hyde of Americorps volunteers during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

JustServe.org has an advisory council comprising leaders from many charitable organizations and enterprises that focus on volunteer service.

“The great thing about JustServe is how flexible it is, and anything can be posted on there as long as it’s important to the community,” said Sharon Eubank, director of humanitarian services for the Church of Jesus Christ. “When I tell people about JustServe I always say there are three aspects to it. Anybody can use it. It’s free. And it’s global.”

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Volunteers work during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
Volunteers work during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
Richard Olsen of the Salt Lake Stake volunteers during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
Michelle Herzog and her son, Matthew, 15, volunteer during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
Katy Christiansen of the Salt Lake Stake volunteers during the National Day of Service at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
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