Caliana McMurtrey of Loveland, Colorado


Caliana McMurtrey of Loveland, Colorado

Loveland, Colorado, nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, is known throughout the world for its Valentine re-mailing program. The volunteers who donate their time stamping Loveland’s special Valentine verse on each piece of mail illustrate the generous spirit of the town.

Caliana McMurtrey of Big Thompson Ward, Loveland Colorado Stake, shows this spirit in her own way. Caliana knows what it is to give of herself. To celebrate her ninth birthday, she decided to have her first real haircut.

The hairstylist, Jill Harris, also a member of Big Thompson Ward, braided Caliana’s hair from the middle of her back to her hips, then cut 15″ (38 cm) from the 30″ (76 cm) length. Caliana donated her hair to an organization that makes wigs of real hair for children who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments, burns, or other medical problems.

Before the big moment, Caliana had never had a real haircut, just trims and snips. She decided to donate her hair after her mother told her about seeing a television program on charities that make children’s wigs.

“I want to do that because I have such long hair,” Caliana said.

She has done much more for others besides donating her hair. She has made giving to others a regular part of her life. For her eighth birthday, she asked friends to bring donations to her party instead of gifts. She gave the products to a local organization that provides food and clothing to families in need. She intends to keep doing some kind of special service to celebrate each birthday.

A third-grader, Caliana enjoys art, reading, and language. She reads a lot and especially likes mysteries, adventures, and books about Latter-day Saint girls in history. The latter books, she says, help her to learn about what it was like to be a girl in the Church a long time ago.

In large part because of her unselfish attitude, she was elected vice president of the student body at her school, and she serves on the student council. She tries to be a good friend and to treat everyone fairly.

Caliana writes her own plays and acts them out with her friends. When she isn’t busy writing and performing plays, she likes to do puzzles, especially the 3-D kind. She enjoys practicing tumbling stunts and playing games. Rainy days find her reading, playing indoor games with her friends, and baking cookies.

Her family spends as much time as they can in the mountains. She builds forts there and explores the forest. Her favorite place is a secret spot in an aspen tree where she reads and makes happy plans.

One of her chores is feeding and caring for her cats, Gumby, Kiwi, and Kulana. Her goal is to work as an animal trainer in a circus or a sea park someday.

Though Caliana doesn’t mind doing outdoor chores such as pulling weeds and shoveling snow, she doesn’t like cleaning her room—she would rather sit and daydream—but she does it anyway. She also helps around the house by vacuuming, setting the table, putting away dishes, and sweeping.

She looks forward to Primary and Activity Days and learning new things about the gospel and the scriptures. She has a clear voice and likes to sing “Beautiful Savior.”

She enjoys family home evening and especially likes the stories her mom tells about people having their prayers answered. She also likes stories in the scriptures about people such as Esther in the Bible, and the brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon.

The only girl and the youngest child in her family, she teases back her four big brothers when they occasionally tease her. When her family took her oldest brother, Rick, to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, two years ago, she knew that she’d miss him, but she wanted him to go on a mission.

After his mission in New Jersey, Rick joined the family as they visited important places in the early history of the Church. Caliana enjoyed seeing the Grandin Press, where the first Book of Mormon was printed, and the Sacred Grove. “All of those places helped me appreciate Church history and the pioneers. They were so faithful, and it helps me want to be true, too.”

Caliana says the best thing about being a Latter-day Saint is knowing why she’s here on earth. “It helps me do the right thing more often, and I don’t have to worry about why I’m here. I already know the answer.”

[photos] Photos by Jane McBride Choate and the McMurtrey family

[photo] Caliana is delivering to a local organization the donations she received for her eighth birthday.

[photo] The McMurtrey family: (Top)—Todd, Adam, Dad; (Bottom)—Caliana, Mom, and Ryan. Rick is not pictured.

[photo] With her brother Adam and one of the dogs her family trained for the disabled

[photo] Hairstylist Jill Harris is ready to cut off Caliana’s braid.

[photo] Caliana and her cat enjoy a good book.

[photo] Caliana is having a good time with her brother Todd.