Sisters in the Mesa Alma Stake recently gathered together to spend an evening giving service. Planning for the event began about six months in advance, during a training meeting with the ward Relief Society presidents in the stake. Sister Ellen Bouck, First Counselor in the stake Relief Society presidency says, “We picked this format instead of our annual women’s conference in an effort to mix things up this year. We scheduled it from 5 to 9 p.m. so sisters could trade off babysitting and come in shifts, hopefully allowing more sisters to attend. It took some planning to get items donated and prepped beforehand but the evening was a great success.”
Approximately 150 sisters participated, completing projects chosen beforehand by the ward Relief Society presidents from a list of potential projects from the JustServe.org website.
By the end of the evening, they had provided 186 crocheted baby hats for NICU infants, donated 99 pairs of white socks to a homeless shelter, contributed toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo to a foster care program, completed 95 blankets and quilts for critically ill children, and made 174 birthday cards for the homeless and 145 school bags full of school supplies for children in Ethiopia.
Following the evening of service, Sister Bouck spoke during stake conference, saying, “There are really two interdependent sides to the purpose of JustServe. Obviously, one purpose is to provide tangible help to those in need. The other is to benefit the server. The needs of the first will never be met without someone willing to just serve. Otherwise, they would have named it ‘Just Get Help.’ True JustServe.org successes occur when both of these purposes are being met simultaneously.”
Sister Bouck continued, “The additional success in our event, however, lies in whether the members of our stake will catch the vision of the JustServe.org initiative and continue serving now that the [stake] project is over.” She added she is confident that the women will do just that and it will involve not only themselves but their families as well.
As a service-oriented church, there are lots of ways to serve in wards and stakes. However, the JustServe.org campaign is a way to reach out to the local community and join with neighbors to serve outside our immediate circles.
JustServe.org explains, “JustServe matches faith, nonprofit, community and governmental organizations that need volunteers with those willing to help.” The website lists service opportunities with companies like Hospice of the Valley, United Food Bank, Friends for Life animal rescue and United Blood Services, among others. There are opportunities to mentor children, decorate for the holidays, stock food pantries, coach a team, sing to the elderly and teach art appreciation to a local school.
Success stories from the website highlight families serving meals to the hungry as part of their family reunion, city workers providing Christmas in July to needy teens, and community members coming together to donate blood to the local blood bank.
“JustServe.org is provided as a service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the website states. “Following the Biblical admonition to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ JustServe provides opportunities to relieve suffering, care for the poor and needy, and enhance the quality of life in the community. JustServe is not for proselytizing or publicity–simply a service to help link community volunteer needs with volunteers.”