A few years ago, a reporter asked what birthday gift members worldwide could give to me. I replied, “Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her.”

I was overwhelmed when I received hundreds of letters from members of the Church telling me how they had fulfilled that birthday wish.

One Primary sent a large jar containing hundreds of “warm fuzzies,” each one representing an act of service performed during the year by one of the children.

One small child wrote, “My grandpa had a stroke, and I held his hand.” From an 8-year-old girl: “My sister and I served my mom and family by organizing and cleaning the toy closet.”

An 11-year-old girl wrote: “There was a family in my ward that did not have a lot of money. The mom and dad had to go somewhere, so I offered to watch their three little girls. The dad was just about to hand me a $5 bill. I said, ‘I can’t take [it].’ My service was that I watched the girls for free.”

A child in Mongolia wrote that he brought in water from the well so his mother would not have to do so. From a 4-year-old boy: “My dad is gone for army training. My special job is to give my mom hugs and kisses.” Wrote a 9-year-old girl: “I picked strawberries for my great-grandma.” And another: “I played with a lonely kid.”

From an 11-year-old boy: “I went to a lady’s house and asked her questions and sang her a song. She was happy because she never gets visitors.”

My heart has seldom been as grateful as it was when Sister Monson and I spent hours reading of these gifts.

Recall with me the words of King Benjamin: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). We are surrounded by those in need of our kindness. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve His children.

President Monson reads the note on the jar of “warm fuzzies.”

Photograph by Kristy Cannegieter; warm fuzzy instruction illustrations by Brian Bean; airplane photo © Getty Images; Philo Farnsworth photo courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library