FYI: For Your Info


You’ve probably heard people criticize the Christmas season for being too commercial. They say that more emphasis is put on the spirit of shopping than on the spirit of the Savior. That may be true for many, but it doesn’t have to be true for you. You can add a spiritual or helpful aspect to your gift giving. When your gifts reflect the Savior’s love, both the giver and the recipient learn of Christ. Here are a few ideas for gifts that will last longer than New Year’s and can leave an impression for months to come.

Christmas Spirit

  • If you know someone who is elderly or perhaps blind or disabled, it might be difficult for them to sign and address their own Christmas cards. Offer to help them with it.

  • Find out if your local firemen or other service organizations are repairing old toys and bicycles. Help by gathering donated toys and bikes from your neighborhood.

  • Find out when the free Christmas concerts are in your community and offer to take someone younger or older who wouldn’t be able to go alone.

  • Offer to take the children of a single parent shopping, and help them select something for their mother or father.

  • Give the environment a gift—take a look at your family traditions and see how you can help make them more environmentally sound and less wasteful. For example, recycle wrapping paper, use a live Christmas tree that can be replanted, see if you can arrange your decorations so they use less electricity, etc.

  • Give a gift to your community. Go to city hall and see what kinds of community Christmas service projects are available.

  • Get together with your class or quorum and make Christmas surprises for all the missionaries, military personnel, or students who will be away from home for Christmas.

  • Give a gift of warmth. Chop, split, and stack firewood.

  • Have a snowman-making contest with the neighborhood kids so their parents can get out to run holiday errands.

  • Sneak into family members’ closets and polish their shoes so they’ll have shiny shoes for the holidays.

  • Give someone a certificate for a music lesson on an instrument they’ve never played before.

  • Tape a child’s favorite books so they can be listened to over and over.

  • Write a children’s story, personalizing it with the adventures of the child you’re giving it to, and make a book out of it.

  • Write a letter telling someone how much you appreciate them and all the things they do. Be specific. Wrap it up and put it under the tree.

  • Wrap up inexpensive squirt guns for everyone in your family—they might take away some of the boredom or let-down that sometimes occurs later in the day.

  • Give a gift to yourself and, so you don’t forget, wrap up a reminder to read the Christmas story in both Matthew and Luke on Christmas day.

  • Give a personalized copy of the Book of Mormon to your best non-LDS friend.

  • Give journals, fancy or just notebooks, to everyone in your family and make it a family goal to write in them regularly.

  • Give everyone in your family seeds and planting pots, and then have a contest to see whose plant blossoms first.

  • Help neighbors, friends, or relatives dispose of their Christmas trees.

  • Offer to help your neighbors take down their Christmas lights.

  • Promise to help your neighbors with snow removal (sidewalk, driveway, and out to the mailbox), or, if you live in a warm climate, offer to help them with lawn care.

  • Give a baby-sitting certificate to a couple with young children so the parents can have a night out to go to the temple.

  • Promise yourself that you’ll give a certain number of people the gift of baptism this next year, and go to the temple to do those baptisms for the dead.

  • Volunteer to make all the lunches in your family for a week.

  • For girls, promise to take your mom to a local department store and get mother/daughter makeovers in the cosmetics department.

Gone but Not Forgotten

Thanks to 150 young people in the Dallas East Stake, some long-gone residents of Texas will not be forgotten. The youth spent their three-day youth conference cleaning up the local Oakland Cemetery and extracting names from the headstones. In all, they submitted 2,500 names to the Family History Department.

Howard Hooper, an administrator at the cemetery, had this to say about their efforts: “I had lived perfectly convinced that all the young people of today are soft, spoiled, pampered and definitely irresponsible. But your visit to the Oakland Cemetery has taught me much. Your demonstrating your amazing vim, vigor, and vitality, plus your daring bravery against fire ants from Mars, showed me that if you are soft, spoiled, and pampered, you are doing a good job of hiding the fact.”

What a Lifesaver!

Attention Scouts! All that time spent in first-aid workshops can really pay off. It has for Rhyan Donahoe of the Tuckahoe Ward, Richmond Virginia Stake. At 15, he’s already been able to save two lives by using the Heimlich maneuver.

Rhyan works at Ginter Hall, a retirement/convalescent center. That’s where he had the opportunity to save two elderly patients’ lives. The nurses there are impressed with Rhyan’s quick-thinking, take-charge attitude. Rhyan says humbly, “I’m glad I was able to help.”

On Target

When Tracey Gould was only five months old, she lost both legs below the knees, half of one arm, and part of her remaining hand. But that hasn’t stopped her from ranking third among all the women crossbow competitors in the British Isles.

Tracey wins most countrywide crossbow competitions, and has received a sports scholarship for her talent. She was also presented to H.R.H. Lady Diana at a civic reception where she had been chosen to represent Derbyshire County for courage in sports.

Tracey also teaches Primary, plays volleyball and table tennis, skates, skis, types, and paints. Although she has undergone countless operations over the past 18 years, she’s aware that many blessings have accompanied her ordeals.

Dancing the Nights Away

Imagine 850 LDS young people in one place, all doing the same thing at the same time. If it sounds impossible to believe, you should have been at the LDS dance festival celebrating Idaho’s centennial. Youth came together from western Idaho and eastern Oregon to do square dance, jitterbug, waltz, cha-cha, hillbilly, and a variety of original numbers.

The summer days were hot—reaching up to 109 degrees, and the sun was bright, but the dancers persevered. Everyone agreed that spending hours making costumes and attending practices, was worth it. Several dancers became more active in the Church, and one family was baptized as an indirect result.

Shila Helmer of the LaGrande Oregon Stake thought the best part of the festival was having everyone pull together. “There were no stakes or wards out there—we were all out there together, experiencing that fantastic feeling.” Eight hundred fifty young people feeling the same thing, at the same time! Maybe it is possible.

One and Only

Ever wonder what it would be like to be the only active young woman in your ward or branch? Just ask Linda Choate, of the Seminole Branch, Norman Oklahoma Stake.

Not only does she never miss a meeting, but she also helps out by occasionally playing the organ and piano for the ward—after a two-week crash course on how to play.

Linda lives with her parents, two sisters, and seven brothers on a ranch, where they like to spend their free time riding horses. At school, she gets good grades and has been homecoming queen twice. Still, she always finds the time to help the older lady she became fond of several years ago when her ward started an adopt-a-grandmother program.

Coed Quilting

The youth of the Portland Sixth Ward, Portland Oregon East Stake, came up with an activity that tied up both young men and young women. They decided to benefit two separate centers for homeless children and victims of AIDS by tying, then donating, quilts.

In two hours, 20 youth produced five tie quilts, each one extremely unique. Everyone ended up developing new skills, growing closer, and experiencing the joy of service, all at the same time.

Put to the Test

It had been a long, hard day. First the youth from the Ephraim Utah Stake had cleaned up an old cemetery. Then they had a picnic lunch and a water fight. Now they were on a two-mile hike to find the campground where they’d spend the night. Was there really time to stop and help the woman and children whose car had broken down on the side of the road?

There had better be. The people in the broken down car were part of the youth conference, put there to see if the youth were really learning their lessons. They were. Every group that came by offered to help.

The service-oriented youth conference also found the youth reseeding the ground cover, cleaning up trash, and making new trails in the area of a popular campground. Their service never stopped.

An Artful Achiever

When artist Kammi Powell, 18, of the Manhattan First Ward, Salina Kansas Stake, gets recognition for her work, she always seems to turn the credit around. “Powell bases success in family, church and quiet determination,” cried a large headline in the Manhattan Mercury. And the article quoted her on how much her parents and the Church have helped her.

Kammi has won a number of art awards, including statewide recognition for her school yearbook design. She’s been very prominent in local 4-H activities, earned her Young Women Recognition award, graduated from seminary, and she plays basketball and softball as well. She is now attending Utah State University.

[photo] Photography by Craig Dimond

[photos] These Texans had a taste for service as they cleaned up a cemetery and helped the family history cause at the same time.

[photo] Rhyan Donahoe saves lives in Virginia

[photos] England’s Tracy Gould won’t let disability shoot down her chances for success.