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Black 14, LDS Church Donate 40,000 Pounds of Food to UW, Cathedral Home Pantries

November 17, 2022
people unloading boxes in the snow
Volunteers from UW and local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members unload pallets of food Thursday donated through the Black 14 Mind, Body and Soul Initiative and the church. The Black 14 collaborated with the church to evenly distribute 40,000 pounds of food to UW’s Food Share Pantry and Laramie’s Cathedral Home. (UW Photo)

John Griffin, a member of the University of Wyoming’s Black 14 from Denver, Colo., says the football players’ initiative of helping others is living up to its name.

For the third time in as many years, the Black 14 is collaborating with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to evenly distribute 40,000 pounds of food to UW’s Food Share Pantry and Laramie’s Cathedral Home today (Thursday, Nov. 17), weather permitting.

Volunteers from the local church, UW, Cathedral Home and others will help to unload the nonperishable food items sent by truck from the church’s Food Distribution Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since the collaboration between the Black 14 and the church began in 2020, 19 selected sites throughout the U.S. have received food donations. During a two-year span, a total of 760,000 pounds of food have been delivered and, over the next three years, about 1.4 million pounds of food will be donated, Griffin says.

“This program -- the Black 14 Mind, Body and Soul Initiative -- has lived up to its name and focus: giving back to those in need,” Griffin says. “It also speaks to the wonderful partnership we have with the church.”

Laramie LDS Stake President Kory Allen also praises the collaboration between the football players and the church.

“We are thrilled that the church’s partnership with the Black 14 is continuing and that this latest food delivery arrives in time for the holiday season,” Allen says. “These resources are a tremendous blessing to the Cathedral Home, the University of Wyoming’s Food Pantry and our Laramie community broadly -- all done in the uplifting spirit of thanksgiving, unity and reconciliation.”

The partnership between the football players and the church has developed over the years as a way of healing. During fall 1969, the 14 UW football players were dismissed from the UW team by head football Coach Lloyd Eaton because they appeared at the coach’s office as a group, wearing street clothes with black armbands, on the day before a game against Brigham Young University (BYU). The players wanted to discuss with the coach how they might show solidarity with a Black Students Alliance call to protest the church’s policy of prohibiting Black persons from attaining the priesthood (the church removed the ban in 1978).

Earlier this season, the Black 14 players were honored during halftime of the UW-BYU football game in Provo, Utah.

“Beyond the obvious benefit this donation provides, both for our students and for the youth at Cathedral Home, I think there is an important and timely lesson here about reconciliation and moving beyond past differences,” says Richard Raridon, senior program coordinator of UW’s Service, Leadership and Community Engagement office. “We are both thankful and proud to be included in this joint effort by the Black 14 and the church in making a positive impact on our community.”

UW’s Food Share Pantry, located in Knight Hall, began in 2020 and is open to the entire UW community, serving students, faculty and staff. Those in need can obtain food items during the pantry’s open hours: Monday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tuesday from 12:30-4 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Thursday from 12:30-4 p.m.; and Friday from 9 a.m.-noon.

“These donations have been absolutely vital to the pantry. We have worked to get it established and are now focused on ensuring it is sustainable,” Raridon says. “Having these donations means that we can use more of our limited financial resources on things such as fresh produce, dairy and personal hygiene items. Additionally, because of these donations, the pantry has been offering support to the independent food share cabinets across campus that we would not be able to otherwise.”

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