A Great Idea

by Melvin Leavitt

Associate Editor

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    Every youth in your stake deserves a subscription to the New Era, right? Here’s a fun way to work toward that goal.

    The youth of the Tampa Florida Stake had a great idea. They decided that every youth in the stake should have a subscription to the New Era. So they went to stake members asking for contributions to pay for the subscriptions. In return for the contributions, they pledged to finish landscaping the front of the recently completed stake center. The response from stake members was excellent, and the young men and women soon raised enough money to meet their goal. The orders were sent in, and soon every home in the stake in which a youth resided was receiving a copy of the magazine.

    One day shortly before a stake conference, the young men and women of the stake showed up at the stake center and went to work landscaping. They put in turf and shrubs and soon had the place looking great. One young nonmember bicycling past thought it looked like so much fun that he stopped and joined in. As a little extra incentive, there were barbecued hot dogs for all the laborers. Because of the industry of the stake youth and the generosity of the stake membership, the stake center looks a lot better, and every youth was exposed to a potentially life-changing influence.

    One of the youth to receive the magazine was Heather Duke, 14, of the Tampa Third Ward. “I like it,” she says. “I haven’t found a story yet I don’t like. It’s helped me a lot, and I’d like to keep taking it. I read it every time it comes out. I just sit down before I go to bed and read the whole thing, and my sister reads it with me.

    “Before I got my gift subscription, all I knew about the New Era was that it was a Church magazine. I didn’t know it had so many interesting stories in it. I’m getting two other youth magazines, and I read the New Era more than I do those.”

    Those who worked on the project received as much pleasure as those who benefited from it. Lisa Mirsky, 16, reported, “I really enjoy doing service projects. So I just started calling around the ward, and I soon had about ten sponsors. Nobody turned me down. The ward was really supportive of us. One of the first people I called said, ‘Put me down for three subscriptions.’ They were really glad to do it.” Lisa found she did not really need a slick sales pitch. “I just went out and said, ‘As a youth service project, we’re hoping you’ll contribute seven dollars for the New Era to go to the home of a youth who doesn’t have it,’ and they said, ‘Sure.’”

    As always, the reward of service was happiness. “I was really happy to take part in the project. I knew it was what I was supposed to be doing, and I felt a great satisfaction in doing it. It was something that could make a real difference in people’s lives. I love the New Era myself. Whenever I get it I sit down and read it right away. First I read the Mormonisms, then the Message, and then I go on from there and read the whole thing—every month. I know that it’s helped me. I’m the only member of the Church in my family, so it’s especially welcome.” Giving the New Era has a special meaning for Lisa. “The first year I got the New Era, my best friend gave it to me as a birthday present, and I just renewed my subscription in July.” So a kind favor is passed on. “I loved the project,” she added. “I’d like to do it again.” The landscaping on the chapel also brought great satisfaction and some sincere appreciation. “The Sunday after we had done the service project, everybody said, ‘Oh, it looks so great outside!’ They loved it.”

    Debbie Carter, 14, of the Tampa Third Ward, tells the same story. “It was fun. It was no trouble getting people to contribute. I telephoned people, and then I went out and picked up the money they had promised.” How many turned her down? “Nobody. I even called some inactive members, and they thought it was a great idea.”

    D. Briane Adams, the stake Young Men president, helped the youth organize and carry out the project. He was thrilled with the response, both on the part of the youth and the membership of the stake. “It may be that this thing will sow seeds that won’t be evident for years. I’ve found that some of the kids come from pretty tough situations, but when given half a chance, they’ll respond in quiet, positive ways. If you were to go out and visit them and ask them to come to church, they think they’ve got an image to uphold, and they would say ‘no way!’ But if they sit down in an idle moment and pick up the New Era because there’s nothing else lying there and read about good positive experiences, they may say, ‘that’s not so bad.’ That was our whole idea. Even if we touch one kid out of the whole stake through this program, it’s well worth the effort. And you never know who’s going to come in the home. It might not be just the kid. The parents may pick it up, or some friends may look at the pictures. I think there will be benefits from this that we won’t ever know about.”

    In the meantime, there are some benefits he does know about—increased enthusiasm on the part of the youth of the stake and sincere gratitude from the active youth who had not been able to receive the magazine because of financial or other reasons.

    And of course the stake center’s looking better than ever. The results have been exciting. But of course that’s what happens when some great young men and women get a great idea and make it happen.

    [Pledge Sheet]

    If you would like to organize a similar project in your stake, your stake executive secretary can help you order the gift subscriptions. You might wish to provide each youth in the project with a pledge sheet something like this one used in the Tampa Florida Stake.


    Name of youth obtaining pledge

    As a service project, on January 14, the youth of the Tampa Stake will begin landscaping the area between the stake center and Fletcher Road. Your donation (pledge) of $8.00 will provide a one-year subscription to the New Era for a youth who does not now have this excellent publication. We have been counseled by our leaders to take steps to place this publication in the homes of all youth from the ages of 12 to 18 who would not normally receive it. We will also accept pledges for subscriptions to go to new converts as they are baptized in the stake, at $8.00 per subscription. In return for your pledge, we guarantee at least four long hard hours or completion of this phase of landscaping work—whichever comes first.


    NAME No. of subscriptions TOTAL$

    Photography by Grant Heaton