Sally Johnson Odekirk, “We Are His Hands,” NewEra, Jul 2010, 26–29
How can you make a difference in the world? When each of us does a little, as a Church we do a lot.
“We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us” (President Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 86).
The world is full of people in need. It can seem overwhelming. Victims of disasters need food, clothing, hygiene supplies, and often shelter. Students in impoverished areas need school materials. And the list goes on. What can one person do?
Actually, each person, by combining efforts with many others, can accomplish a lot. Assembling humanitarian kits is a great example of this principle.
What Is a Humanitarian Kit?
There are several different types of humanitarian kits, such as hygiene kits, school kits, and simple games for children. These kits are sent to areas of the world to help with basic needs and relieve suffering. The contents may seem simple (for example, hygiene kits* consist of unbreakable combs, toothbrushes, soap, and hand towels), but when these kits reach someone who has lost everything, they provide not only needed personal care items, but also comfort that comes from knowing someone cares and took time to put them together.
When the Murray Utah West Stake decided to make hygiene kits as part of their youth conference, Amy Woodland, of the 13th Ward, was one of those asked to collect and organize supplies for her ward.
She says of the experience, “When I was asked to help with my youth conference and gather items for a humanitarian project, I sat down with my mom and talked about how I was going to organize the project and get all the items I could. I started by passing out flyers that told what items we needed and took them to each house in my neighborhood. I also went into priesthood meetings, Relief Society, Primary, Young Men, and Young Women to announce the items needed.
“Before I knew it, I had people dropping items off at my house, calling me to find out more about the humanitarian project, and giving me money to purchase supplies that we needed the most. Then, when youth conference came around, we had tons of items that other girls had collected from other wards in the stake.
“Being able to participate in this project was amazing! It felt so good knowing that these hygiene kits were sent out to children, adults, and families who were really in need of them. Service is something that really should be spread throughout the world. It has helped me want to serve others more. I learned that by serving others we are serving Heavenly Father.”
Maria Sanchez of 11th Ward agrees, “My experience doing the hygiene project was great. I have to say that my favorite part was getting together as a stake to put the kits together. Everyone had fun, and having so many people to help made the project go very fast. I learned that when everyone helps in little ways, it can help a lot of people.”
On the day of the youth conference activity, the young men and young women met to put the hygiene kits together. They had hoped to assemble 300 kits and ended up assembling more than 600. Reagan Eisert, 15, of the Liberty Ward said, “I never knew that there were so many specifications in gathering hygiene products to put into a plastic bag. When I saw the generosity of my ward members, I realized how much love they had for people they didn’t know and were likely to never see. As I watched the kindness of so many people, my own testimony grew. I’m so grateful that I was a part of this service project and that the hours I spent really helped someone else.”
File Folder Games
Children living in orphanages or refugee camps need simple educational toys that teach them basic skills and help occupy their time. File folder games** teach simple matching skills and are fun for the children. Each kit contains a file folder that includes matching games with shapes, colors, or numbers and an envelope to keep them in.
The girls in the Waynesboro Virginia Stake had the opportunity to make file folder games for the humanitarian center when they were at their stake young women’s camp.
On the day of the project, the girls were excited to be doing something that would help others. Danielle Beidler of the Waynesboro Ward says, “I learned that there are many ways to serve others, and it felt good to be able to help them. I realized that I have been so blessed.”
Chelsea Herring of the Rivanna Ward adds, “It made me think of how fortunate I am to be able to go to school.”
Martha Dudley, who was in charge of craft projects for their stake’s young women’s camp, went to ProvidentLiving.org for ideas on how to get involved with humanitarian kits. She says, “I went to the section that lists the current humanitarian needs and found that one need was for the file folder games. I thought that this would accomplish both of my goals: a humanitarian service project that would let our young women help others, as well as being fun to do at camp.”
The activity was so successful that many girls came back later that day and helped finish the folders that needed additional work and talked about their feelings of helping others. Tiffany Dudley of the Rivanna Ward says, “I learned that giving is easy when you are having fun and thinking of someone else.” In the end they assembled 60 file folder games for the humanitarian center.
Experiences with preparing humanitarian kits such as these bless not only those who receive them but also those who put them together. Those involved learn for themselves the truth that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
For information on more service projects needed by the Humanitarian Center, go to www.ProvidentLiving.org, and then click on “Service Opportunities” and “Make humanitarian aid kits.”
Quietly and Quickly Responding
“My heart rejoices as I observe the Saints all over the Church doing everything they can to provide Christlike service wherever there is a need. Because of member contributions, the Church can quietly and quickly, without fanfare, respond to needs all over the world.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Stewardship—a Sacred Trust,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 93.
Do You Have Extra Clothes to Donate?
“We receive a lot of clothing because of the generosity of the members. The clothing goes to Deseret Industries and they’ll take what they need locally and the surplus clothing goes to the humanitarian center. Then the clothing is sent all around the world. If there’s an earthquake or a tsunami the Area Presidency in that area will assess the needs and tell us what they need. We keep an inventory of donated supplies, and we send them along with food, medicine, and clothing items.”
Dennis Lifferth, former managing director of Welfare Services
Called to Support and Heal
“Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign, May 2010, 68.
Working together, the young men and young women of the Murray Utah West Stake completed more than 600 hygiene kits.
The young women of the Waynesboro Virginia Stake discovered the fun of creating file folder games for the Humanitarian Center.
Photograph by Robert Casey; inset photos by Paul and Jenna Metcalf and Martha J. Dudley
* See www.ProvidentLiving.org, then click on “Service Opportunities” and “Make humanitarian aid kits” for detailed instructions on how prepare hygiene kits.
** See www.ldsphilanthropies.org/humanitarian-services/humanitarian-pattern.html for instructions and patterns.