EDMONTON, Alberta — An army of 60 Mormon missionaries recently spread good will to more than 400,000 through volunteer service at a major tourism event.
When the 35th annual Heritage Festival — a three-day showcase of Canada's multicultural flavor where participants sample food from around the world — young men and women from the Canada Edmonton Mission were helping the local food bank.
Elder Jared Worthington said the missionaries were organized into groups with the goal of collecting cash and food donations. In the process of giving service, the missionaries also had the chance to interact with 200,000 people. No proselyting was done, but it was still time well spent, Worthington said.
"It was a chance for people to see us out working and helping," said the St. George, Utah, native. "It gave people a chance to be around the missionaries and hopefully we left a good impression so when they see us in the streets, they won't be afraid to speak with us."
Tamisan Bencz-Knight, resource development coordinator for the Edmonton Foodbank, said more than 77,000 pounds of food and more than $40,000 were collected over the three days, with donations still coming in. She said having the missionaries around made their job easier.
"We were amazed at their execution. They shuttled in, got to work, and we didn't have to provide as much support. Things ran smoothly. They were quite self-sufficient," she said. "They are also so much fun to have around. We have been fortunate to have their support for several years and we have a great ongoing relationship."
As an added bonus, Worthington said he enjoyed the food.
"The camel meat from Somalia was good, but fatty," he said. "Portugal also had some pretty awesome doughnuts."