By Jillian Ogawa
Instead of stretching stomachs this Thanksgiving, Provo resident David Perry is seeking to “stretch souls” and share a religious practice with the rest of the country.
Today, Thursday, Nov. 21, cities and towns nation-wide will observe “Feed America Thursday,” which encourages citizens to fast two meals and donate money to charities, non-profit or religious organizations of their choice.
Locally, the idea may be connected to a religious practice like the LDS fast offerings, but Perry is seeking to bring the religious practice in a secular venue.
He said he hopes people in this community will see it as a civic, humanitarian duty, not just a religious practice.
“As members of (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we also have responsibilities in the church to support community projects,” he said. “We shouldn”t hesitate to fast for one more time for the community.”
The proclamation recognizes that Thanksgiving Day celebrates the idea of selfless thanksgiving for family and friends, and it is a virtue on a day where our nation was founded by, but there are 13 million children who live in households without an adequate supply of food. Three million of these children suffer from hunger.
In light of the general spirit of thanksgiving, the proclamation then calls upon the residents of Provo to fast for two meals and use that money to donate that money used to an organization of their choice.
Perry said the idea of encouraging a nationwide fast has been on his mind for several months. He thought it was not possible because he is just one person with no political position.
“But as Thanksgiving got closer, I thought it won”t happen if I don”t try,” said Perry.
He presented the idea to Provo Mayor Lewis Billings and his staff. Although Billings was concerned that it would be seen as a religious program, he was still supportive of the idea. He encouraged Perry to bring the idea to Sen. Hatch”s office.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., co-sponsored the resolution, which was adopted by the Senate unanimously.
“Then I also took this to Gov. Leavitt, issued a declaration designating Thursday, Nov. 21 as the official Feed America Thursday in Utah,” said Perry.
Billings and other community leaders signed the proclamation two weeks ago, and more than 1,200 letters have been sent throughout the nation encouraging support.
Committees worldwide are working on an international effort to designate a World Thanksgiving Day.
“It is a whisper campaign, a simple campaign of each one of us doing a little bit to help someone else,” said Perry.