In his First Presidency Message in December 2012, President Thomas S. Monson posed a very thought provoking question: “In our day the spirit of giving gifts plays a large role in commemorating the Christmas season. I wonder if we might profit by asking ourselves, What gifts would the Lord have me give to Him or to others at this precious season of the year?”
President Monson then went on to say, “In this marvelous dispensation of the fullness of times, our opportunities to love and give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. Today there are hearts to gladden, kind words to say, deeds to be done, and souls to be saved.” (“Rediscovering the Christmas Spirit,” Ensign, December, 2012)
For over 10 years, a small group of Mormons has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of members in their community and also benefited friends and families in foreign lands. A free clothing exchange held every two or three months at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in Brockville, Ontario, has people lining up before the doors open at 11:00 a.m. All items are free, the only rule being that they cannot be resold.
Clothing has been sent or taken to families in Chernobyl and Cuba. Pictures of Jesus are often included for the children.
Inclement weather was no deterrent on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, as people travelled up to an hour to enjoy the camaraderie and good spirit.
One volunteer told how this service is fine-tuned to meet the needs of ‘the one’: “A gentleman in his 80s called to say he was unable to come to the church during the normal hours because he had to be home to accept his Meals on Wheels. The doors were opened early, just for him.”
When there is need for a particular item, a note is made, and when that item is donated, the person is called and it is set-aside until the next exchange. In one instance, someone needed sheets and blankets because of a house fire; the items were kept for that person, and upon pickup she brought with her a donation of two bags of baby clothes.
The Saviour himself taught, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
(Matthew 25: 34-40)
By following the admonition of Jesus Christ to serve one another, the impact of this ongoing, selfless giving is felt within the Church, the community and the surrounding area, with another local church now offering the same service.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counsellor in the First Presidency of the Church, said, “As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit” (“
You Are My Hands
,” April 2010 general conference).
Such feelings were also evident four hours west of Brockville during a Women’s Day service project in Hamilton, Ontario, on November 5, 2016, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
An almost year long project collecting 10,000 diapers and 8,000 baby wipes was donated to
Birthright of Hamilton
, a non-denominational organization offering support to women with unplanned or stressful pregnancies. Pink and blue flannel baby hats were also made that day and included in the donation.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that God often meets the needs of others through our small acts of service when he said, “I have learned that it is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves. In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves. (
God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” (“Small Acts of Service”, Ensign, December, 1974)