Kentucky stake honored by governor for humanitarian efforts

The Lexington Kentucky North Stake distributed over 222,000 pounds of nonperishable food in 2023

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently honored the Lexington Kentucky North Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for distributing over 222,000 pounds of nonperishable food in 2023.

Held on April 16, 2024, the 28th Annual Governor’s Service Awards recognized “exceptional volunteerism and service contributions,” according to the program’s website. The Lexington Kentucky North Stake was one of 30 organizations and individuals that received the governor’s award.

Julia Fellows, director of communications over the Church’s North America Southeast Area, said in a news release that in 2023, the Lexington Kentucky North Stake’s 10 congregations launched a significant relief effort in eastern Kentucky.

The initiative, which distributed over 222,000 pounds of nonperishable food across three locations, aimed to address food insecurity and bring assistance to a community facing economic challenges and natural disasters, Fellows said.

The 10 local congregations also received financial grants from the Church, which went toward a food pantry’s equipment needs and a delivery van for the Sterling Community Food Coalition.

Fellows said the initative’s impact went beyond food, with 271 quilts and blankets donated to Project Linus and a clothing drive benefiting the Bluegrass Community Health Center. Additionally, around 840 knitted handmade caps went to newborns in area hospitals.

“Looking ahead, the Latter-day Saints in the Lexington North Stake express their ongoing commitment to serve neighbors in need,” Fellows said in the news release. “Acknowledging that the needs in Eastern Kentucky persist, they plan to monitor the situation, engage with local leaders and continue providing assistance, including self-reliance and emotional resilience classes.”

From left:  Serve Kentucky Director Joe Bringardner, Lexington Kentucky North Stake President Rex Holt, Serve Kentucky Commission Chair DeAnna Brangers, and Eric Friedlander, secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Serve Kentucky Director Joe Bringardner, left, Lexington Kentucky North Stake President Rex Holt, Serve Kentucky Commission Chair DeAnna Brangers and Eric Friedlander, secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services pose for a photo during the the 28th Annual Governor’s Service Awards on April 16, 2024, in Frankfort, Kentucky. President Holt accepted an Annual Governor’s Service Award on behalf of his stake. | Serve Kentucky

2023 service award

This isn’t the first time the Church has received honors for its service efforts in Kentucky. In 2023, the Church was recognized at the 27th Annual Governor’s Service Awards for its humanitarian work in the wake of devastating flooding in eastern Kentucky in July 2022, reported.

At that time, around 3,000 Latter-day Saints from 29 stakes in the region gave 65,872 hours of service during a two-week volunteer effort. They cleaned out 867 damaged homes, and brought food, water, cleaning supplies and hygiene kits to survivors.

Elder Nathan A. Craig, Area Seventy in the North America Southeast Area, accepted the award on behalf of the Church during the May 2023 ceremony.

“Printed on the Kentucky flag and around the official seal is a motto that reads, ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall,’” Elder Craig said at that time. “This award and all others received today represent thousands of volunteer hours from individuals who exemplify that motto. As people of faith, we would say that a little differently: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The result of that love is hearts knit together, compassion and understanding.”

Prior to the May 2023 awards ceremony, more than 70 Church members gathered at the Kentucky State Capitol to meet with Gov. Beshear and members of the Kentucky General Assembly on Feb. 16, 2023, Church News reported.

The group included Elder Craig and delegations from 10 stakes, including stake presidencies, stake Relief Society presidencies, communication directors and assistant communication directors over outreach and media.

Beshear spoke about all that the Church and its members do for Kentucky.

“I see members of this community after floods, after tornadoes, helping their fellow human beings. And I believe we are stronger when we accept and work with all faiths to create a better world,” he said at the time.

The stake delegations met with the governor and then had meetings with their local representatives, speaking with 48 legislators — about one-third of the Kentucky General Assembly. Church members shared information about the humanitarian aid and service that the Church provides throughout the state.

Elder Craig also presented Beshear with a personalized copy of the Book of Mormon.

“Today was a day of miracles,” Elder Craig said. “We were able to share that as followers of Jesus Christ, we have something to give. This was a great opportunity to come as a Church delegation and meet with our elected officials and share that we are, first and foremost, their neighbors. And we love our neighbors.”

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