In an age where the media is filled with stories about teens and young adults acting entitled or being self-centered, it is a wonderful thing when the media takes note of those who do not fit the stereotype. Recently The Telegraph, covering central Georgia, caught some young adults from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often nicknamed Mormons, helping Habitat for Humanity build a home for a low-income family.
Young single Mormon adults devoted June 15, 2013 to doing service projects across the Southeast as part of their regional conference. They went out into their own communities to serve, and a group from Macon, Georgia chose this project as a way to serve their town. A married couple, Faye and Keith Whigham serve as their advisors and they were the ones who first learned that a house was being built that weekend. They suggested it to the young adults, who enthusiastically agreed to assist. The young people spent a warm Saturday framing and painting the home alongside people from many other faiths and organizations.
Mormons Serve Because Jesus Served
They explained to reporters that they do this type of service regularly because Jesus taught His followers to serve others. They believe a true Christian will try to emulate Jesus Christ and so they look for regular opportunities to perform service projects. Their advisors said attendance is higher at their service projects than it is at any of their “just for fun” meetings.
Our willingness to sacrifice and our skills in cooperative efforts come from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, from the inspired teachings of our leaders, and from the commitments and covenants we knowingly make (Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, April 2009 General Conference address).
The Day of Service activities had been done informally by congregations for generations, but in the 1980s, The Church of Jesus Christ asked several South American countries to participate in a formal day of service. They asked local government leaders what needed to be done in their community and then sent congregations to carry out those projects, inviting those who were not Mormon to assist. The program was so well-received that other areas began to imitate it and it is now done world-wide as an annual event for most areas, often with several states joining together in order to accomplish more. Volunteers wear yellow vests with “Mormon Helping Hands” on them so leaders can quickly identify their own people when necessary. Programs include cleaning parks, repainting schools, collecting food for food banks, gathering clothing for homeless shelters, and anything else a community needs. They often partner with other organizations, such as this project with Habitat for Humanity.
Some young adults might be spending the majority of their time on themselves, but programs like Day of Service demonstrate that many young people are living lives of service to others and it is to those young people we can look to for our futures.