Linda had a hip replacement nine months ago, and she still has difficulty walking. Besides this, she suffers from a debilitating, chronic immune disease, has three herniated discs in her back, and one of her knees is bone on bone. Many people with similar afflictions might retreat to an easy chair or hospital bed. Not Linda. In her community she is continually looking for ways to minister to the needs of others.
One of her main yearly projects is helping children and women in the region. On holiday occasions throughout the year, Linda anonymously distributes individualized gifts. What started over 20 years ago as her desire to help the women in one nearby shelter, Linda’s outreach has grown immensely. She shared, “My eyes were opened to the immense need for providing a glimmer of hope to those in need, especially during the times when most people are celebrating.”
The holidays of Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day (and others) are all occasions when Linda does her best to provide that hope.
In 2018, she gave personalized presents to more than 200 women staying in five regional shelters and to over 2000 children and youth from several organizations.
Reports back from the shelters and organizations attest to the fact that these personalized gifts do have a unique impact on the women and children. As Linda explains, “If they realize that some anonymous person cares about them as an individual, then it may make it easier for them to believe that God cares for them.”
Meanwhile, after two years of preparation, Linda recently completed writing a 20 page book designed to be distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, etc. It is called: About Me. On each page children can draw pictures, write about their lives, express their likes and dislikes, and think about what they can do to help others. The aim of each activity is to help the children avoid sadness and to focus on happy thoughts instead.
As she approaches the difficulties related to printing her book, Linda responds, “I am praying for the Lord’s help to figure it out. I have faith the Lord will help me or inspire me with what I can do, as He has with all my other endeavours.”
Starting in March, on the heels of her Valentine’s delivery, she is preparing for Easter. Hundreds of gift bags will not only include crayons, toys, games, puzzles, and clothing but also chocolate eggs and bunnies.
To facilitate these preparations, Linda has a workshop that fills her entire basement: six large metal cabinets filled with chocolate and candy and over 200 totes that are filled with a variety of items that are all organized by age and gender.
The shelters and agencies provide her with the age and size of each woman and child. Then, Linda “shops” from her totes and fills each gift bag with items especially designed to warm their hearts.
For the women, Linda makes “Inspirational Thought” books with 20 hand-crafted pages: each featuring a different motivational quote especially chosen to help them through their situations. She hole punches the covers and pages and ties them together with ribbons.
Each book’s last quote is from 2 Nephi 31:20: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God.” Linda notes, “Under the quote, I just put ‘The Book of Mormon.’” These books go out to women in the shelters on each of the special occasions.
Linda has found that when others become aware of her ministering efforts, some have offered to help by donating gifts, toys, supplies, and labour. The local Lions Club also makes yearly donations. She is always appreciative of this and is thankful for the many personal and “real blessings” that the Lord also sends to her.
Linda’s husband, Rick, has recently retired. He is now hoping to complete a writing project that he has been researching for the past ten years. The purpose of his book is to give inspiration and direction. Rick hopes that for individuals who may be doubtful of faith in God, his book will provide reasons for them to believe that God exists.
Ministering to their family’s needs keeps both Rick and Linda “plenty busy.” With her year-round project, and 11 grandchildren all nearby, Linda explains, “We have a lot going on, and we have ‘lots of love’ for every one of our children and grandchildren.” Linda has taught each of those grandkids her favourite hymn (“Have I Done Any Good?” Hymns, no. 223), the first line being “Have I done any good in the world today?”
Linda lives to show love for others through service. For as Jesus clearly taught: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Learn more by reading Cristana B. Franco’s general conference talk “The Joy of Unselfish Service,” Ensign, Nov. 2018.
Editor’s note: The “My ABOUT ME Book” has now been printed. In an answer to prayer, the funds were provided to produce a thousand copies. Linda has started distributing the books to many organizations, including to kids with cancer at the hospital, to the Children’s Advocacy Centre (for abused children), as well as several Women and Children shelters.
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