“Our Ward’s Gift of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 64
At Christmastime we often sing of “peace on earth, good will to men.” The spirit of Christmas moves many of us to help others in Christlike ways. Still, despite our best intentions, the busyness of numerous holiday preparations and celebrations can cause us to lose our charitable focus. A few years ago, our ward decided to change the plans for our annual Christmas party. Instead of having the usual elaborate dinner, entertainment, and visit from Santa Claus, we celebrated the season with a potluck dinner and service activity of helping homeless men in a nearby city. The project touched our hearts and added meaning to our celebration of Christmas. Following is a brief description of our service project with suggestions for planning a successful activity.
Plan early. Well before the activity, we talked to representatives of the homeless shelter to see what items were most needed. They said women and children are more often the recipients of service, so we decided to focus on the men’s needs this time. The shelter suggested we provide personal grooming items, primarily to help the men make themselves more presentable for job interviews. Then our Relief Society sisters donated fabric and made 260 over-the-shoulder bags to store the toiletries and other gifts we would give.
Involve everyone. To reach our goal of filling 260 bags, we invited ward members to contribute soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, and other items. Several companies also donated needed goods, and we added candy for a festive touch. Then we organized like items in cardboard boxes and placed them on a table in one room of the meetinghouse. The youth formed an assembly line to fill the bags, and the Primary children made Christmas cards in another room. In a third room, the brethren made checkerboard games, while the sisters gathered in the cultural hall to make 10 quilts for the shelter. Throughout the evening, some members moved from room to room, helping one another in a unified effort.
We added to the joy of the evening by starting with a simple potluck meal and ending with Christmas songs sung by the Primary children, accompanied by two brethren playing guitars. Enhanced by the spirit of Christmas, our evening of service helped us to focus more fully on others’ needs as the Savior would have us do.—Martha D. Harger, Sandy 13th Ward, Sandy Utah West Stake