The National Make a Difference Day organization believes everyone has the power to make a difference. Their mission statement explains, “No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone has the power to do something that improves the life of another. Whether it’s starting a project that helps one person, or working on one that benefits a whole community, every contribution makes a difference.”
Stakes, wards and youth groups and families participated in the event on October 25. The Mesa Mountain View Stake had several wards assigned to different projects, such as trimming overgrown mesquite trees, laying granite down at a local trailhead, painting a house and more.
The youth of the Val Vista Ward were assigned to clean a garbage infested alley in their neighborhood. They had several trucks and trailers to haul out discarded furniture, trash, tree clippings and other debris. The group filled five dumpsters from the one alley.
Jim Abney, a member of the stake Young Men’s presidency recalled a moment while they were working. “One lady saw us in the alley and started putting more garbage back there for us from her yard. I immediately reacted with bitterness until I saw two leaders back their truck in and start helping her. They went the extra mile just like our Savior would have, and immediately my attitude changed.”
Katie Turley, a Laurel in the ward adds, “It was great to have friends from our ward to work with. I would gladly do it again.” When asked how the neighbors felt about their service, she responded, “I don’t know if anyone noticed, at least not while we were working, but even though we didn’t get any recognition, I got the good feeling that I did something to make my city a nicer place.”
Lisa and Dominic Daidone, of the Noble Ward in the Mesa Skyline Stake, volunteered with their two small children, and worked with the Mesa Leadership Program to clean up a community garden and empty lots. Lisa remarks that while she and her children weren’t much help, her husband commented that the value was in teaching their children to serve, even at a young age. Lisa says their son Luke, age 3, must have gotten the message as he kept asking what jobs he could do to help.
Youth in the Ironwood Ward, Queen Creek North Stake, participated in activities the entire week leading up to Make a Difference Day. They had a service scavenger hunt, held a canned food drive and did yard work for neighbors, among other projects. On the 25th, they gathered at a nearby horse property and, as part of an Eagle Scout project, put together a sensory trail that will be used as therapy for the developmentally disabled, those with sensory disorders and even people suffering from PTSD.
Afton Jensen, a Mia Maid, said her favorite aspect of the week was working with friends in the ward. Collectively the ward put in over 1,000 hours on Saturday alone.
“I can’t believe we can have that much fun together and get so much done,” Afton says.
For more information on Make A Difference Day and it sponsors, visit www.makeadifferenceday.com.