“Humanitarian Rooms Provide Localized Help,” Ensign, Oct. 2008, 78
For children undergoing cancer treatment at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, hugs and comfort become precious. That is why volunteers at the Deseret Industries Humanitarian Service Room (HSR) in Las Vegas sewed together 25 padded cushions that wrap around each child’s shoulders and fasten in the front with glove-like hands.
“It wraps around them like a hug,” explained Elder Henry Hoogland, who is serving with his wife, Nedra, as the supervising HSR missionaries in Las Vegas. “They use it when their parents can’t be with them during the actual treatment.”
This is just one example of the many local projects that have taken place within the service rooms located at 16 different Deseret Industries stores and at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
In 2000, five HSRs were launched as secondary production facilities for the Humanitarian Center, primarily producing standard kits (hygiene, newborn, and school). In 2007 and 2008, 12 more rooms were added to existing stores, and future Deseret Industries stores will be designed with designated space for the rooms.
Christy Boyer, HSR coordinator, said that since 2007 the purpose of the rooms has become twofold: to produce humanitarian items and to provide a place where groups and individuals can serve their community.
“A lot of people don’t know how or where to serve,” said Sister Judy Chambers, who serves as a supervising missionary in the Logan, Utah, USA HSR with her husband, Blaine. “When they find out we are available, it gives them an opportunity to come in and do something.”
In Logan volunteers made “whisper phones” out of PVC pipe for the local English as a second language center. The phones help children to improve their language skills and reading ability by amplifying the sounds that make up words. The Provo, Utah, USA HSR has teamed with a community program to provide needed items to youth at a detention facility.
The missionaries staff the rooms and are responsible for identifying community projects. The Humanitarian Center supplies the rooms with the items needed to make the standard kits and will also pay for the supplies for local projects that do not exceed $500. Projects above that cost must be approved by the Humanitarian Center.
Members and nonmembers are encouraged to participate by contacting their local Deseret Industries store. Volunteers should be at least 12 years old, and youth groups or groups with special needs should be accompanied by at least one adult per five volunteers.