Some 60 members in the Petawawa Branch, Ottawa Ontario Stake, located 100 miles [160 km] northwest of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, have not only become committed to service themselves, but they have also excited the community about serving.
“Our little branch became infected with the humanitarian aid bug,” explained branch member Mary Tromp, and they’ve infected others.
It began with a notice in the Ensign about the need for quilts in Chile. A sister in the branch presented the idea of making quilts for the needy to the Relief Society. They soon took on the challenge of gathering fabric and batting and then working together at the meetinghouse and sisters’ homes.
When it came time to tie the quilts, the Primary children joined in. As the project expanded, the children donated money and goods. “The wonderful part of all this was that the more we gave, the more we wanted to do,” said Sister Tromp.
Word spread to nonmember friends who donated fabric, quilts, and clothing. As the public heard of the projects, help came from unexpected sources. A group of young mothers in a continuing education program offered their services and sewed quilt tops. A fabric shop offered a discount on batting for the quilts. A Pembroke grocery store donated 200 dresses to the branch.
In February 2004, branch members loaded up their cars to deliver the quilts to the bishop’s storehouse in Canandaigua, New York.
But the “bug” has only continued to spread. In June 2007, a member couple and their friends held a garage sale. All proceeds were given to the branch’s humanitarian aid fund to purchase more items for hygiene kits and sewing supplies for quilts.
In June 2007 sisters made the seven-hour drive to the Canandaigua storehouse with the branch’s latest offerings. Because the donations had outgrown the capacity of their cars, the sisters drove a truck packed with 50 quilts, many hygiene kits, and boxes of children’s clothing. The sisters remained in the area to serve in the storehouse’s canning facility for half a day.
Sister Tromp explained: “We have been very blessed as we have been given the chance to serve our brothers and sisters. The joy that we feel will keep our fingers sewing and tying for the foreseeable future. Like the little train that could, our little branch could and did. What a blessing it is to serve our Savior. Every day He gives to us is a gift. What gifts can we give Him each day in return?”
For more information on how to assist the Church’s humanitarian aid efforts, go to www.lds.org/humanitarianservices.