Ever since the First Presidency invited every member of the Church last April to participate in a day of service during the coming year, Saints across the world have been responding. In at least two nations—the United Kingdom and Brazil—units have participated in a unified effort with other members across their respective countries.
On Monday, September 5, 2011, members from 11 stakes around England, along with Area President Erich W. Kopischke of the Seventy, met for a Helping Hands project in the Tottenham Marshes.
The event marked not only the 75th anniversary of the Church’s welfare program but also the official relaunch of London’s 2011 Capital Clean-Up Campaign. For five hours, members—in conjunction with the mayor’s office—weeded, built flowerbeds, chipped wood, cut down overgrown vegetation, and removed litter from the Lee Valley Park.
On the same day members in other areas of London joined in Helping Hands projects at Haven House Children’s Hospice and Richard House Children’s Hospice.
At Richard House, 18 members of the Stratford Ward painted an office space, weeded, cut plants, swept the grounds, and fixed tools. This was the hospice’s first contact with the Church, said Charlotte Illera, project manager for the service project at Richard House.
“I was touched with the way the volunteers took on their tasks with enthusiasm and joy,” she said. “Even a simple task such as sweeping a path was done to its best.”
Over the past several months, Church members in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been organizing and participating in dozens of service projects throughout the nation.
On July 30, 2011, yellow vests dominated the scene at hundreds of service projects across Brazil in celebration of the 12th anniversary of Mormon Helping Hands, a program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that seeks to provide community service and disaster relief to those in need.
Mormon Helping Hands (Mãos que Ajudam) actually originated in Brazil as a way to acquaint friends and neighbors with the Church’s humanitarian efforts. It has now become a major annual event.
This year’s day of service was filled with singing, laughing, and applause as 120,000 men, women, and children swept streets, cleaned schools, repaired buildings, beautified parks, and participated in other service projects in Latin America’s largest, most populated country. Church members partnered with community members to provide service that will benefit everyone.
In Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Bahia, more than 6,000 volunteers mobilized to fight dengue fever. In Rio de Janeiro, volunteers cleaned up public schools and day care centers. In Porto Alegre, 1,500 volunteers cleaned schools, and some participated in lectures on drug use prevention.
Over the two months prior to the service day, more than 500 volunteers worked to collect donated food, which was given to 175 needy families in São Jose on July 30.
Church members in Blumenau donated approximately 300 pounds (136 kg) of food to Casa de Apoio às Crianças Portadoras de Mielomeningocele e Neoplasia (House in Support of Children with Spina Bifida and Neoplasia). Volunteers also taught basic principles of food storage to the institution.
“The techniques we learned will help us to keep food in our pantry, since much of our food spoils in the moist environment,” social worker Adriane J. Backes Ruoff said.
Editor’s Note: Share your Day of Service experience at http://lds.org/service/welfare-75th-anniversary.