Think Big

By Lacey McMurry

Church Magazines

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A young woman in Waco, Texas, has discovered that a tiny idea can quickly turn into something big—something that can bless the lives of many.

Stephanie David has made quite an impression on the people of Waco, Texas. In fact, the mayor of Waco was so impressed that she officially named March 2, 2004, Stephanie David Day.

So what did Stephanie, 17, do to get her very own day named after her? “It all started with Personal Progress,” Stephanie says. “I wanted to do something for my Good Works Value Project that really would be a good work. I wanted to make a difference.”

A Growing Idea

The seed for Stephanie’s Value Project was planted as she browsed through items at a rummage sale. She remembers looking at the clothes and thinking they were in great shape. Then she asked a question that set everything in motion: “Who could benefit from having these clothes?”

Stephanie’s question was answered a few days later as she talked to a foster mother in her ward. She found out that children who were removed from their homes and placed in foster care usually weren’t able to bring personal belongings with them. Often, they needed more clothes.

So Stephanie decided to organize a nonprofit clothing center in Waco. Her idea was to gather gently used clothing at garage sales and encourage community members to donate clothes. She would then wash, organize, and store the clothes until foster children needed them.

Although her idea was a good one, Stephanie had to wait four months to get her project approved by officials of Child Protective Services. Eventually, Stephanie was given the go-ahead, and she named the clothing center Kind-er Closet, which is a fitting name because Kind-er Closet is just that—a closet in Stephanie’s house.

Stephanie and her family operate Kind-er Closet all by themselves. When foster children need clothing, case workers call an automated phone number and leave messages for Stephanie that tell how many children need clothing and what sizes they wear. After listening to the messages, Stephanie searches through the stash of clothes and finds 6 to 10 outfits per child. Then she wraps each child’s clothing and delivers it to the Child Protective Services office in Waco.

The Rewards of Service

Even though Stephanie has long since met the requirements to complete her Personal Progress project, she plans to keep Kind-er Closet going for several more years. Over the past year, Stephanie has spent about 600 hours on the project. Thanks to her, more than 100 children have received the clothing they need.

Stephanie’s mother, Sarah, says, “At first, when we started telling Child Protective Services officials about the project, they didn’t understand why Stephanie would donate so much time to something she wouldn’t get paid for.”

But Stephanie understands there are more important rewards than money. For legal reasons, she never meets the children she collects clothing for. But the good feeling she gets when she finishes a clothing package is the only reward she needs.

“I see all these packages going out, and I can’t really describe the way I feel,” Stephanie says. “It just makes my heart burst open. I don’t get to meet these kids, but deep inside, I know my gift made them happy.”

An Answered Prayer

Stephanie says her experiences with the Kind-er Closet helped her enjoy Personal Progress and strengthened her testimony of service. “Now that I’ve done something that really helps others, I think of service in a whole new way,” Stephanie says. “It’s fun.”

So how did Stephanie come up with such a great idea for her project? She prayed that our Heavenly Father would inspire her, and she knows the idea for the Kind-er Closet was an answer to her prayer.

Stephanie’s advice to other young women trying to come up with meaningful Personal Progress projects of their own is to think big. “If you have a good idea, don’t push it aside,” Stephanie says. “If you really want to make a difference, the Lord will help you.”

Why Personal Progress?

The Personal Progress program was developed to help young women in the Church “cultivate feminine virtues, grow spiritually, and reach [their] divine potential” (Young Women Personal Progress, 1).

[Forget Ourselves]

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“My plea is this—if we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out. Let us put in the background our own personal, selfish interests and reach out in service to others.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Whosoever Will Save His Life,” Ensign, Aug. 1982, 6.

Photographs courtesy of the David family; paper sculptures by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki