February is a time of year when we think of candy hearts, valentines, and romance. And while all of those things are fun, there are lots of other, more important ways to show your family and your friends you love them. In this month’s FYI, New Era readers share ways they’ve shown love in their families, their wards, and their communities.
Katy Ballenger knows a lot about serving others. Katy has spent countless hours volunteering at Primary Children’s Medical Center and the Shriners’ Hospital in Salt Lake City. She has also given many hours of service to various groups at her school and to elderly neighbors. Katy enjoyed all of her service activities so much, she decided to show her classmates how they could get involved. She formed a club at her school called HUGS (Help Us Give Service), which links students with opportunities to serve.
Katy, a Laurel in the Butler First Ward, Salt Lake Butler Stake, has been recognized by many local and national volunteering organizations for her many accomplishments. She has also had the chance to speak to several groups, including a recent meeting of the national “Community of Caring” organization.
“Although I’m not speaking in a church setting, I always pray to have the Spirit with me when I talk about the importance of service,” says Katy. “When I spoke to the ‘Community of Caring’ people, the Spirit was very strong, even though it wasn’t a church meeting. It was so neat.”
Young Women in the Cartersville Branch, Marietta Georgia East Stake, sent a box filled with treats to the full-time missionaries in their area. Each treat came with a scripture attached so that the missionaries could feed both their bodies and their spirits. The youth loved the activity—and so did the missionaries!
To those of us on the mainland, warm, sunny Hawaii might seem like a funny place to quilt, but the Mia Maids in the Hawaii Kai Second Ward, Honolulu Hawaii Stake, know that a touch of service gives needed warmth no matter where you live.
Nurses were delighted with the crib-sized quilts that are to be used in a hospital program that cares for infants at risk.
Youth in the Sunset Ward, Kaysville Utah Stake, have service all sewed up.
The young men and young women in the ward spent an evening sewing scripture carrying cases for the youth in two Serbian branches. Amazingly, it only took them about two hours to complete 29 cases. They also matted and framed pictures of the Frankfurt Germany Temple (the nearest temple) and pictures of the Savior. The cases and the pictures were then taken to Serbia by a couple in the Sunset Ward going to pick up their missionary son.
“The project really came together well. We were able to get a lot of the materials donated, which helped a lot,” says Cami Stanger, the Laurel who headed up the project. “We also each wrote our testimonies and sang ‘I Am a Child of God’ to them on a videotape. The people who took the materials over to Serbia said the people really appreciated them and were thrilled to get them. That made me feel great.”
Have you ever had a school teacher who has made a real difference in your life? How about one you thought was especially funny, or smart, or nice? Youth in the Edgewood Ward, Kimball (Mesa, Arizona) East Stake thought long and hard about those questions and then invited 37 of their favorite school teachers to a special teacher appreciation dinner at their church building.
The young men and young women ate dinner with the teachers and then performed a dance number for them. Three of the students also gave short talks about the importance of teachers in their lives.
“The teachers here are remarkable,” said Mia Maid Brittney Riggs during the program. “Teacher starts with T, and so does the following: ‘Thank you, teachers.’”
Certificates of appreciation and a program highlighting the lives and achievements of the teachers were given to each teacher in attendance.
Now there’s a program that deserves an A for effort.
Carissa Thorne is from Orem, Utah. When she attended a national convention for student council leaders last summer, she thought she and a few of her friends were the only Mormons at the conference. So imagine her surprise when two girls walked up and said:
“Hi, we’re Charlene and Jennifer. We’re from Hawaii, and we’re Mormons. Are you?”
Charlene Ignacio and Jennifer Kajiyama were able to locate a total of 25 LDS students at the conference using this method. The group had a testimony meeting and invited anyone who was interested to attend. They placed seven copies of the Book of Mormon and answered lots of questions about their beliefs.
“We found that this conference was a testimony building experience,” says Carissa. “Not only were we touched by our experiences, but many others were also touched by our testimonies of Jesus Christ.”
October is a month to play tricks, but the youth of the Surrey Second Ward, Surrey British Columbia Stake, decided to give treats to a local hospital instead.
Dressed in their Halloween costumes, the youth delivered uncut jack-o’-lanterns that they had decorated with paints, marking pens, and hats (cut jack-o’-lanterns don’t last as long) to the nurses’ stations at a nearby medical center.
Making Halloween sweet instead of scary for the patients wasn’t just a great way for the youth to give service; they say it was also a lot of fun.
What could be better than spending a Saturday morning in the rain and mud, sorting garbage and stacking cement blocks? Youth in the Fredonia Branch, Jamestown New York Stake, can’t think of a thing. When rain started to fall the Saturday the youth were scheduled to do cleanup work at the Elm Flats Preserve, workers at the Chataqua Watershed Conservancy fully expected the group to cancel out on their service project.
But, as one of the leaders said, “Mormons don’t melt,” and the youth and their leaders went to work, cleaning junk, wood, and other debris from the area. They worked so hard and so fast that by lunchtime they were finished.
Their hair and their clothes may have been a little damp, but their spirits weren’t. They spent the afternoon hiking through the preserve and are looking forward to their next visit.