Serving others is part of Christmas

Throughout the Church, many members make serving others a part of their Christmas observances.

Ongoing projects in stakes and wards throughout the Church, such as feeding the homeless, donating food and clothing to less-fortunate and joining the community in benefit efforts, take on special meaning at Christmas time, they say.The following are examples of such service:

In the Coshocton Branch of the Columbus Ohio East Stake, Relief Society sisters made 200 stuffed animals to be given to local agencies that assist families. Some of the toys were given to Coshocton County Sheriff Dave Corbett. He had toys placed in each patrol car to be given to children who have to be transported without their parents. Other toys were given to other relief agencies. "It won't be very long until every child in distress has a critter lovingly made by sisters who know the needs of children," said Judy Parsons, branch Relief Society president.

In the Athens Branch of the same stake, the Primary paid a Christmas visit to the elderly at the Athens County Home.

"The Primary made cards for the residents, and the children stood next to the residents and performed Christmas music on chimes," said Kathleen Anderson, a Cub Scout leader in the branch. "The residents love it; they have always been very responsive."

Visits to the county home began two years ago when Sister Anderson and Judy Yeager, both Cub Scout leaders, noticed that the home for the elderly was in an out-of-the-way location and the residents there seemed to have few visitors.

Since then, the Primary, including the Cub Scouts, and other auxiliaries of the branch have participated in the visits.

Douglas Anderson, 9, said the first time his Cub pack visited the county home, he was a little worried about being around older people he didn't know. But he found that they liked him and now he enjoys visiting.

Douglas said that after the Primary visited for Christmas, "They

the residentsT were glad to see me, and they were thanking us and stuff. It made me feel good," he said. It was the same kind of feeling he has on Christmas morning, he added.

Pres. Neil Anderson of the Athens Branch said, "Our children have truly followed King Benjamin's teachings and are learning to serve their Heavenly Father by serving His elderly children."

Children in the Canton Ward, Westland Michigan Stake, brought gifts to the Christ child, like the wise men of old. The gifts were later distributed to needy families in the area. Members in the Huron Valley Ward, Ann Arbor Michigan Stake, gave gifts to and spent time visiting with residents of a retirement home.

In Florida, young women in the Liberty and Blountstown wards, Panama City Florida Stake, began a Christmas project that has developed into a community event, said Sterling A. Hill of the North America Southeast Area public affairs office. The young women announced in the local newspaper a clothing drive, and then a clothing give-away.

They collected hundreds of pounds of clothing and then spent many hours sorting and cleaning it. When the clothing was ready for distribution, they set up tables near a busy thoroughfare and put up signs: "Clothing Give-away."

First to be served was a family that had lost all its possessions in a fire. Following, came many in the community who were in need of clothing. Other stake members held a Christmas dinner for elderly widowed people, shut-ins and those without a family.

Missionaries giving service time to the community have also been involved in Christmas projects. Missionaries in the Texas Houston Mission recently took on the considerable task of decorating the inside of an airplane hangar for a community-sponsored Christmas party for seriously ill children.

More than 500 children attended the party, which included a ride on an airplane that taxied on the runway.

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