Ready, Set, Serve!


This is all about the “hi” sign. And apple-picking. And cucumber seeds. And lifesaving puppets. It’s about how service can be creative, fun, and rewarding. Just look around for needs, get creative, then get going.

Signs of Love

Kristin Campbell of Salt Lake City had no idea she was preparing herself for a lifetime of service when she decided to take a sign language class for her Laurel project. She just wanted to learn for her own enjoyment. But as she practiced with deaf students she began to feel a change of heart.

“For some deaf people, our hearing world is like a different planet where no one speaks their language,” Kristin says. “Working with them, my heart changed from selfishness to really wanting to be able to communicate with others.”

“When I said hi to a deaf student in the hall through sign language for the first time, he got really excited! He started signing fast!” says Kristin. “The look on Bryan’s face was worth any sacrifice. I could tell it helped his self-esteem to know that a hearing person would care enough to learn how to communicate with him.”

Kristin had previously been afraid of Bryan because he attended special classes and sat with an interpreter at lunch. But once she learned how to communicate with him, they developed a unique friendship.

They talked about classes and school. “It’s really hard to communicate names so I never did get his last name,” said Kristin. “We did have Jesus in common, though.”

Apple-picking Party

Gabe King, 15, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, wasn’t exactly looking for a service project. But when he found out about his neighbor’s misfortune, he couldn’t help but act.

While working in his orchard, the neighbor fell out of a tree. He was hurt badly enough that picking the apples himself was impossible. If the apples weren’t picked, he wouldn’t be able to make a living. Gabe organized a group of about ten young women and men to join him in an apple-picking party. They chose a cool day in October and picked all day long to bring in the man’s crop.

“He was very grateful and really happy,” Gabe explains. “He would have lost a lot of money had we not picked his apples. It was a great feeling to know how much it meant to him.”

Helping Each Other

If you saw Deborah Freeman of Silver Spring, Maryland, your first reaction might be to try to help her. Deborah is orthopedically disabled, and her mobility is limited to a motorized cart. But with a little help, Deborah joins right in to serve others.

For a youth conference service project, Deborah’s stake picked strawberries on the Church-owned Johnson Farm near Kirtland, Ohio. As everyone disappeared into the fields for the all-day project, Deborah was right there with everyone until dirt paths grew too rough and her cart began to stick in the mud.

Fortunately, Ben Tibbets, a high school senior, and Aaron Hill, the youth chairman of the conference, saw the problem and immediately began figuring out ways they could help.

“We surprised her by pushing and lifting her motorized cart through the rough spots so she could help too,” says Ben.

“They put the bucket in my basket and threw the strawberries in it,” says Deborah. “They kept joking around. It was fun!”

Deborah wasn’t the only happy one either. “Service is one of the most fun things we have to do,” says Aaron. “It’s something you can actually do to show love for others and a love for Christ.”

Change of Heart

Nathan Skene of Salt Lake City didn’t always know how happy service could make him. The summer after graduation from high school, Nathan really didn’t want to go to youth conference. He would be the oldest there. All his friends were gone, and it didn’t look like it was going to be that much fun. But he went anyway.

The theme for the youth conference was MASH—Modern Army Serving Heaven. His “platoon” was chosen to spend time with a group of mentally handicapped students. The students chose a partner; then each pair took a walk together.

“Terry chose me,” Nathan explains. “Being close to him and seeing what kind of spirit he had opened my eyes to how much I love people and how much I enjoy serving others.”

Nathan’s bad attitude dissolved. And now he sees things a little differently. “My most important goal is to gain a Christlike love for everyone,” he says.

So even though there are hungry children in the world today and homeless people on the streets, don’t get discouraged about helping. Just decide what you can do—and then act. You can make a difference. And even better than that, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

Planting Seeds

When 14-year-old Ken Welty of Centerville, Utah, learned that people in Africa needed food desperately, he decided to raise money for seeds to send to Africa.

First, Ken handed out fliers explaining what he was doing and which seeds needed to be purchased. After checking with seed companies about growing requirements, Ken assembled and sent seed packets for tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, and other foods to contacts in Mali and Botswana.

The project was a real eye-opener for Ken. “My mom and dad have jobs, and they bring home the food for us to eat,” Ken explains. “It was weird to think that there are people over in Africa who are a lot older than me, but because of my service project I am helping them feed themselves.”

Mutual Love

For some kids one night a week of Mutual is enough, but not for Claudine Miller of Sandy, Utah. Besides going to her own Mutual night on Wednesday, Claudine also volunteered to help with her region’s handicapped Mutual every Thursday night.

One of Claudine’s most memorable times with the girls was on “Cinderella Night,” she says. The Mutual girls dressed up in fancy dresses and learned how to put on makeup and fingernail polish. “It really helped them feel pretty,” says Claudine.

Another great experience came when Claudine helped the handicapped Mutual do baptisms for the dead in the Jordan River Temple. “It was really neat,” she said. “The Spirit was so strong!”

Her service project ended up lasting two years, but the time flew by for Claudine. “It made my testimony grow so much to feel their spirit and hear them say thank you and express their love for me,” she says. “When I serve I feel like I’m doing it for Christ, and it makes me feel really good.”

Saving Lives

Shannon Welty of Centerville, Utah, is saving the lives of African children—with puppets.

“When little children get sick with diarrhea and vomiting, the parents don’t know it’s dangerous to restrict water,” Shannon explains. “Because their children are discharging liquid they think they have had too much moisture, so they stop giving them food and water. The children end up dying from dehydration.”

Instead of waiting for some international committee to help, Shannon organized a service project to teach African villagers how to treat sick children. She persuaded people in her hometown to donate materials, enlisted elementary school students as volunteers, and spent many hours preparing 13 puppet kits.

The puppets will be used to tell a story about a little boy who is sick with dehydration and how to treat him. Contacts in Mali, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Burkina Faso will receive and translate the kits.

“I couldn’t have imagined I’d be saving lives by making puppets,” Shannon says. “People were asking how I felt saving someone’s life and that’s when it hit me. Service is really Christlike because he saved everyone.”

Service Ideas

  • Put on a carnival for mentally handicapped adults or children.

  • Make activity kits for children in shelters for the homeless or abused.

  • Sew aprons for the cooking class at a local school for the handicapped.

  • Use socks to make hand puppets for handicapped, hospitalized, or homeless children.

  • Prepare homemade greeting cards for people in supervised homes, prisons, or nursing homes. (Don’t forget cards for Valentine’s or Mother’s or Father’s Day.)

  • Help mentally handicapped adults participate in an arts-and-crafts evening.

  • Hold a “sock hop” dance where the fee to get in is a pair of new socks to be donated to a local homeless shelter.

  • Answer phone lines for a local telethon.

  • Hold a “wash-a-thon” by cleaning the windows of nonprofit agencies.

  • Make holiday table centerpieces or lunch tray party favors for any agency that serves meals.

  • Make bookmarks for people involved in literacy programs.

  • Help older ladies feel beautiful again by helping with makeup and giving manicures and pedicures.

  • Sort donated food and clothing at a charitable organization.

[photos] Photography by Jed Clark, Libby Frech, and Brent Petersen

[photos] Kristin made the effort to learn sign language. Just the look on Bryan’s face when she first signed “hi” was worth it.

[photo] Gabe organized a team to pick apples for an injured neighbor. “It was a great feeling to know how much it meant to him.”

[photo] Ben Tibbets (right) and Aaron Hill (not shown) saw the need and helped Deborah Freeman get around at a welfare project. It was a simple act, but Deborah felt included and actually had fun.

[photo] Ken’s approach was a very practical one—sending seeds to the starving in Africa.

[photos] Claudine (right) works with her region’s handicapped Mutual, while Shannon (top right) made puppets to help save lives of African children.

[illustration] The Savior lived to bless and serve others. He asks us to follow and do likewise.