Whether they were serving the homeless, the sick, the poor, or the needy, young women around the world agree that participating in the recent worldwide Young Women celebration brought a light to their lives that they will always remember.
The celebration, which focused on service projects as a major part of the activity, was designed to help young women include compassionate service as a regular part of their lives. Leaders were encouraged to look around their communities for a project in which the young women could participate on November 21, a day of service to others.
“We’re hoping this day will help each young woman better understand the needs of her community and the ways she can make a positive difference,” explained Janette C. Hales, Young Women general president. “We want this kind of service to become a part of her life, not just a one-time occasion.”
In the afternoon or evening following the service projects, most Young Women groups met with their parents and leaders for a program. Those programs included talks, musical numbers, and audiocassette addresses delivered by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Hales.
Following are examples of some of the hundreds of service projects held around the world:
In Fort Worth, Texas, young women made more than nine hundred sandwiches for residents of a local shelter for the homeless. In addition, they gathered and donated various items to the people in the shelter. Following their program, the young women formed a large half-circle and held flashlights. When the lights in the room were switched off, the young women turned their flashlights on one by one. Then a spotlight illuminated a large picture of the Savior.
“You could almost feel the room stop,” said fifteen-year-old Desiree Watkins. “I was filled with love and the Spirit. It pulled me back into focus, wanting to be like Christ.”
Young women in the Irvine California Stake spent the morning making bibs for an Orangewood home for abused children. “When our Young Women president told us the home uses about 350 bibs per day, I thought, ‘Wow, that service project really did make a difference,’” said Katheryn Clayton.
In New York, members of the Manhattan (Spanish) Ward decorated hand towels and worked at a crafts fair to benefit a local charity. In addition, the young women passed out flyers advertising the fair.
Young women from the Bronx Second Branch spent the day visiting patients in a local hospital. “It’s great knowing that sisters all over the world are performing a service project today,” said Christina Garcia, a Laurel. “We’re doing Heavenly Father’s work, and we’re not alone.”
Young women in the Paisley Scotland Stake battled snowstorms to participate in their “Walk in the Light” programs. One group collected household equipment and donated the goods to a local women’s center while another group staged a concert for a local nursing home. The young women also decorated a Christmas tree with bows representing service projects in which they had participated. “We will not see more meaningful Christmas decorations this season,” observed Dorrie Fulton, second counselor in the stake Young Women presidency.
Bad weather didn’t bother the young women in the Iowa City Ward, either. Despite a cold, gray morning, young women gathered to prepare a home for new occupants. The house was made available for a homeless family through a community program that provides affordable housing and counseling to the homeless. The young women washed dishes, scrubbed walls, wiped out cupboards, and cleaned windows.
In Vernon, British Columbia, leaders decided to focus their service on missionary work. Each young woman was asked to serve for nine weeks in friendshipping those of other faiths.
“During the program that followed our project, we had one young woman from each ward report,” said Joyce Findlay, Young Women president of the Vernon British Columbia Stake. “They shared exciting experiences like working with the hearing impaired, friendshipping new girls at school, and preparing an investigator for baptism.”
In the Woodstock Ward, Marietta Georgia East Stake, young women prepared a Thanksgiving feast for a mother and four children who had recently left a women’s center and moved into a small apartment. They delivered the meal early when they heard the family might be going hungry.
In the Ashington Branch, Sunderland England Stake, young women prepared an afternoon social for senior citizens in the community. The young women also performed a program. “We wanted to show them how much they are appreciated for all their hard work,” observed Rachel Woodward.
Children in two Fort Smith, Arkansas, hospitals received visits from the young women in the area. The youth read stories, sang songs, played games, and rocked toddlers. One ward presented a puppet show for the children’s entertainment. “Some of the young women were so engrossed in visiting that we literally had to go get them and lead them out,” said Ginger Tucker, Fort Smith Arkansas Stake Young Women president. “Especially heart-wrenching was the toddler who followed one young woman into the hall and cried when she left.”
Young women in Quebec, Canada, visited senior citizens who reside in a local hospital. Each young woman spent an hour with a patient. Most had been selected because they received few if any visitors.
The young women gave gifts to the patients as well. Before going to the hospital, many expressed anxiety as they thought about spending an hour with an older person they knew nothing about. However, by the time the visits were complete, most of the young women had already made plans to return to visit their newfound friends.
The theme for the worldwide day of service came from Isaiah 2:5: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” [Isa. 2:5] The Young Women logo, a torch, was the symbol for the celebration. The November 21 day of service began a year-long Young Women emphasis on serving others.