“Of Good Report,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 79–80
Warmed by Service
In keeping with their area presidency’s challenge to participate in service projects prior to stake conferences, one hundred members of the Hastings New Zealand Stake, including full-time missionaries, armed themselves with spades and shovels and headed for a local park.
The volunteers spent the day digging and cleaning up the park. They also planted approximately fifteen hundred kahikatea, manuka, and totara trees in sheltered areas and hillsides throughout the reserve area.
Despite the cold temperatures and overcast skies, all involved felt warmed by the opportunity to follow the advice of their leaders and offer community service.—Arohanui Lawrence, Hastings, New Zealand
Welcoming Sister City Guests
Hispanic members of the La Verne California Stake volunteered their time and talents recently when residents of the community’s sister city, Acambaro, Mexico, visited La Verne.
Members of the Pomona Second (Spanish) Branch prepared and served dinner for thirty guests from Acambaro, as well as for many La Verne city officials. The members also provided a program that included traditional American and Mexican entertainment. Those in attendance gave the performers a standing ovation.
This is the second time branch members have volunteered their services while La Verne officials hosted sister city guests. “We always appreciate an opportunity to be actively involved in the life of the city,” reported Jan Stine, a member of the stake presidency, who coordinated the volunteer efforts along with Jeff Allred, a Young Men president in the La Verne First Ward and La Verne’s assistant city manager. “We want city officials to know not only who we are but also that we are available when they need us. This is one way we can raise awareness of the Church and build bridges of friendship within our community. We’re grateful for the willingness of the members in the branch to give of their time and talents.”
As a gesture of appreciation, La Verne mayor Jon Blickenstaff presented a community service award to the stake recently during a city council meeting.—Alene Harrison, La Verne, California
Crèche Exhibit for Community
For the seventh year in a row, members in Livonia, Michigan, organized a Christmas crèche exhibit for their friends and neighbors. Nativity scenes from around the world and handmade quilts were displayed. In addition, Christmas entertainment was provided by local groups.
“This is our gift to the community—to bring many cultures together in celebrating the true meaning of Christmas,” said Leslie Snow, who helped organize the exhibit.
More than six hundred nativity scenes from approximately thirty countries were on display. They were made of numerous materials, including clay, stone, porcelain, fabric, metals, gingerbread, chocolate, corn husks, shucks, Israeli olive wood, and even mud. The crèches all belong to private collectors.—Gina Thorderson, Livonia, Michigan
Exchanging More Than Clothes
As the mother of four fast-growing children, I was frustrated with trying to stick to a careful budget and yet keep my children in clothes that fit. I shared some of my thoughts at a Relief Society presidency meeting four years ago and was amazed at the result.
Our ward decided to sponsor a clothing and toy exchange. The principle is simple: Each year, everyone who is interested donates used clothing and toys. For each item donated, the family or individual receives one ticket. The donated items are sorted and organized, and the next day everyone gets to go “shopping.” They can “buy” one item for every ticket they have.
The activity became a stakewide event. We’ve held it for the last four years, and the numbers are impressive. More than 6,500 items have been donated, and almost 3,000 of those items have been “purchased” with tickets. The rest have been donated to Deseret Industries.
The most exciting part of the exchange is knowing how many people it helps. Children love to go shopping because they can get anything they want without worrying about the cost. Missionaries have found suits, ties, and shoes. Young mothers-to-be are delighted with the maternity clothes they find, and one young man even found a tuxedo for his upcoming prom.
Of course, we have a few guidelines. All clothes must be clean with no broken zippers, missing buttons, rips, or stains. The toys must be clean with no missing parts. And most important, no money is ever involved. One ticket purchases one item.
We put all the unused tickets in a bag for families who may be interested in more items than they have tickets for. In the four years we’ve held the event, there have always been plenty of tickets for everyone. Our whole stake participates in the clothing and toy exchange, and it’s something that many of us look forward to all year—Laurie M. Vaughan, Mercer Island, Washington