For the past 15 years, Latter-day Saints in Chandler have reached out with “Helping Hands and Caring Hearts” to provide back-to-school outfits for children in need.
The project began in 1998, after the First Presidency encouraged community service as part of the Church’s sesquicentennial birthday.
“We knew some children were skipping the first day of school because they didn’t have something suitable to wear,” says Danell Tarwater, a project chair from Chandler Stake, who has helped direct the efforts since 1998.
From its beginnings, the project has seen tremendous support from members of the Chandler Stake and, after they were created, the Chandler West Stake and Chandler East Stake joined the cause.
“It’s a great project. We provided nearly 1,500 outfits again this year,” says Sister Tarwater.
The process begins in May, when ward representatives are called and meetings held to explain the program. The Saturday before school starts, several hundred people help sort the clothes, fill the orders and deliver them in time for children to have them the first day of school.
“It is obviously Heavenly Father’s program,” the organizers say. “It takes many, many caring hearts and helping hands to make this program work, and it is a privilege to be a part of making a child happy.”