The pandemic has cast such a heavy cloud over 2020, with sickness, death, economic issues, isolation—the list goes on and on.

So it can be hard to remember the good that happened this year. For us, the bright spot was seeing how the community came together to help each other.

“This is part of the joy of working in human services,” said Tom Hogan, associate director for Community Action Services and Food Bank. “There are times when all you see is the horrible hardships. But then you see the amazing things that people can do.”

We have a lot for which we’re grateful, especially in the last few months.

Valley United Against Hunger Food Drive

Every year, students at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University come together to raise money and gather food donations for our food pantries in Utah, Summit, and Wasatch counties. This year, right before the events started, Gov. Gary Herbert declared a new state of emergency that meant students had to cancel the majority of the socially distanced events they’d planned.

Instead of letting the new emergency declaration get them down, they focused on raising even more money and collecting more food. Students rallied alumni and the community to do more for people in need. In all, they raised a record-breaking $49,634 and gathered more than 4 tons of food.

One of the most popular activities of the drive was BYU’s Y Run? in which participants committed not to run and post photos of their non-run activities.

“Our team made up this event just two weeks before everything was being canceled,” said Nick Merrill, BYU Student Alumni Association vice president of philanthropy. “We figured this was something that couldn’t be canceled. We raised almost $4,000 with this event alone. It was so popular. We’re hoping to make it an annual event.”

BYU alumni contributed more than $27,000 to the food drive, and UVU’s alumni gave more than 2,000 pounds of food.

Even though almost everything was online, people gave more and were more receptive to us, said Shaun Singh, director of alumni relations at UVU.

No Shave November

The Provo Police Department got in on the giving action in November, too. Officers and administrators donated $50 each for the privilege of not shaving during November and December. In all, 43 people participated and all proceeds went to Community Action Services and Food Bank.

More Giving

Most businesses in our community canceled their holiday parties because of the pandemic. Several companies chose to use their holiday party money for good, though, by donating the funds to Community Action Services and Food Bank.

Giving Tuesday—always the first Tuesday in December—meant significant donations too. On Dec. 1, the donations on our website far exceeded every other year.

“All these donations off-set the lack of the two major food drives this year,” Hogan said. “This money allows us to go out to purchase in bulk at competitive rates and leverage our abilities to fill our food bank.”

In 2020, we had the privilege of watching our community come together to help each other. With the help of college students and alumni, police officers, volunteers and people giving online, we’ve been able to continue our mission of ending poverty in our community. If you’d like to end the year with a donation, you can give online here.