Strengthening the Community
October 2003

“Strengthening the Community,” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 78–79

Strengthening the Community

Materials Donated to Juvenile Facility

An extensive repair project at Borstal Institution, a juvenile detention facility in Accra, Ghana, has improved the lives of young inmates. Through the mutual cooperation of Latter-day Saint Charities, which provided the materials and donated medical supplies and equipment, and the Borstal Institution, the inmates were able to build and paint bookshelves, desks, and chairs, and make repairs to a new library building, a woodworking shop, and other facilities.

At a 26 June celebration marking the end of the project, many of the inmates and institution officers expressed gratitude for LDS Charities.

“We are overwhelmed with all these tools and medical supplies, too numerous to imagine. I am grateful to all members of the Church,” said Nai Alhaji, deputy director of prisons.

The project was designed to work hand in hand with the already-established goals of Borstal—to help young offenders be rehabilitated and return to society better able to be useful and self-reliant citizens. Borstal is working with 142 young men to help them plan for a useful future.

Elder Neil Darlington, representing LDS Charities, said during the celebration, “This has been an exciting project. With our limited resources, the funds have gone to the boys to help them help themselves to do as much as they can with their own hands. … These desks and chairs that you [boys] made yourselves is symbolic of the gift. It is the reason we made the donations so you can do something for yourself, to try to improve your lot in life.”

Volunteers Move Supplies to New School

Saving the Oregon City School District tens of thousands of dollars, volunteers from the Oregon City Oregon Stake packed and moved thousands of boxes of books and supplies from the old Oregon City High School to its new building.

The massive move was selected by the stake as its annual community service project, held each summer in one of the suburb communities that comprise the stake.

“Part of our effort each year is to get members of the community to work along with us to build bridges of faith and understanding,” said Linda Conlee, a member of the stake.

Church volunteers arranged for the use of at least a dozen trucks donated by businesses, along with everything from donated forklifts and pallets to 700 lunches for hungry helpers, said Larry Blunck, one of two coordinators for the June service project.

Teachers boxed their classroom supplies and marked each box with yellow tape and black markers. Volunteers helped with the rest. The fleet of trucks, from 20-footers to tractor-trailer rigs, split up between the two campuses the morning of the move.

A crew of volunteer amateur radio operators was stationed in the front offices of each building, with more radio operators roaming the halls putting in requests for supplies or more helpers.

“It was an enormous logistical effort that required more than a year of planning and communication,” said Sister Conlee.

Ken Rezac, business manager for the Oregon City School District, said the district is glad to have had the help. It might have cost as much as $100,000 to hire movers, Mr. Rezac said.

Medical Supplies Donated to Island

Just a few feet from the Colonia Chapel on the island of Yap in Micronesia, missionaries and members were busy unloading a 40-foot container of medical supplies donated by the Church to the Yap Wellness Clinic. The supplies included general medical supplies, critical-care equipment, and clothing to help provide better health care services to the 12,000 people on Yap.

Dr. Ayesha Adelbai, head of the Yap Wellness Clinic, thanked Church members for their help. “We have limited resources in Yap, and [this] is very helpful to us,” she said. “It shows how much the Church cares about people. I can’t believe how freely the Church gives to others.”

Students Donate Teddy Bears to Children

Students from the Latter-day Saint Student Association at Valdosta State University in Georgia recently donated 275 handcrafted teddy bears to local children and children in Iraq as part of a service project they dubbed Operation Teddy Bear.

The service project is ongoing, with approximately 50 people from the Latter-day Saint Student Association and community working on the bears.

One hundred of the donated teddy bears were given to local first-response teams to be distributed to children who have recently suffered traumatic experiences, including car accidents, fires, and tornados. The students are arranging to send the remaining 175 teddy bears to soldiers in Iraq for them to give to children.

The idea for Operation Teddy Bear originated when local LDSSA adviser Elaine Cronin read an article about teddy bears being donated to traumatized children. Instead of purchasing bears to donate, students decided to make them, setting a goal of producing 250 bears by the end of April 2003. The students surpassed their goal by 25 bears.

Students have already begun making bears for next year’s teddy bear drive.

Members of a stake in Oregon help move supplies from a local high school to its new building. (Photograph courtesy of Linda Conlee.)