“Ssshhh!” warns one of the girls. “They’ll hear you.” She buttons the jacket of her hot-pink polyester jump suit, straightens the popcorn ball in her hair, and edges towards the house. But it’s no use. The group bursts into loud laughter again.
So much for a “secret” mission.
By this time the people in the house wonder what all the women are doing gathered on their porch. After all, it isn’t every day that 14 girls and their Young Women leaders come to visit, especially not dressed like this.
The girls are wearing neon polyester outfits. They’ve arranged tinfoil, popcorn balls and tacky fake flowers in their hair. To top it off, several girls are wearing curling irons as necklaces.
When a young woman opens the door to see what all the commotion is about, the group bursts into an enthusiastic, out-of-tune song. They sway to the music and slap their knees.
By the time the song is over the girl being visited is laughing hysterically. So is her family. The group gives the girl a plate of cookies, smothers her with hugs, and leaves as loudly as they came—another mission accomplished.
The Secret Agents of Love, or SAL Squad, started three years ago to accomplish an important mission: to unite the Bluffdale (Utah) Second Ward Young Women.
Not that all of the girls were inactive. They were just … bored. And they weren’t showing up for activities. One night, after another activity fizzled, some of the girls started talking to their leaders about what they could do.
“We were feeling pretty discouraged. Then someone mentioned this story about a girl who ran around doing things to make other people happy. All of a sudden, our attitudes changed. We realized that we could do the same thing,” said Marci Nielson, 18.
The first project was to deliver cookies. Cars honked. People yelled. Trucks pulled over at the sight of several girls wearing cone heads and army boots and riding on two-seated bicycles.
“We didn’t miss anyone. If they were at work, we went right up to the drive-up window of the restaurant, or to the produce section of the supermarket. I think it really made everyone feel good,” said Kristin Sherwood, 18.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is a service project. It helps to cheer up someone’s day in a really fun way,” said Katie Drury, 18.
All of the girls admit they’re having fun. But they also say that somewhere between the cookies, songs, and costumes, something is changing lives—especially theirs.
Kristin admits that before this Young Women activity started, she didn’t take the time to get to know the younger girls. “I would have missed out on some great friendships.”
The SAL Squad operates with two secret weapons—(1) everyone, girls and Young Women leaders alike, joins in, and (2) love. They say they don’t leave home without it.
“I’ll always remember the fun we’ve had,” says Janalyn Anderson, 18. “But my favorite memory will be of someone opening the door and looking at us like, ‘I’m important to you? You dressed up and did all this for me?’ It has changed lives. And all it took was love.”