Once upon a time I was called in a ward to be a service outreach coordinator for the Relief Society. I was asked to organize monthly service projects which excited me beyond belief, but was given pretty tight restrictions. We weren’t allowed to spend money or ask for donations, it had to be close to our own community (a wealthy suburb), etc. I felt defeated before I even started. It never really got off the ground because I couldn’t see a way through these boundaries nor muster the confidence to push them.
But others in my same shoes have been able to go beyond what was asked of them and accomplish some really great things. My former ward is a shining example of just that. Starting from a little idea by the activities committee to use the Christmas party money from every auxiliary to fund a service project, they were able to significantly make over a camp used for children with disabilities, challenges and serious illnesses. Two ward members reported to the Church News:
“. . . after several false starts in finding the right project, what began as just a couple of hours of making toys for the local children’s hospital turned into what one stake high councilor called the most ‘huge and daunting’ project a ward could possibly take on.”
According to their reports, though the camp was an hour and half drive away, more than 280 people traveled to work 4,000 hours collectively on a Saturday in December as well as solicited and offered donations of materials, supplies and food for the camp totaling more than $10,000.
This time of year draws out the best of us. My children are going to my neighbor’s to make cookies for our local fire and police departments. My parents request a service project from each of their children (for someone else) in lieu of a gift. I believe charity can be as small as taking the time to really see someone and as big as our imaginations can dream. But my own charitable giving in time and in resources could use more of is this daring to push outside a comfort zone to find something meaningful.
What I love about this story is that they didn’t have the perfect service project when they had the idea. It started as a little idea and grew as much as they dared to dream and work. There were probably a few boundaries pushed. But amazing results were achieved.
I think I’ll keep them in my heart this year as I plan my own ways to reach out. They’ve given new meaning to a song I’ve sung my whole life:
Dare to do right,
Dare to be true,
You have a work that no other can do.
Do it so bravely, so kindly, so well,
Angels will hasten the story to tell.