Long after city's birthday, gifts of service still pour in

For the past two years, people of all denominations in this city have enjoyed a "Bountiful Harvest" of gift-giving.

Thousands of people donated service in many projects, coordinated under some 300 leaders of various denominations, in the non-profit "Bountiful Birthday Gift Committee."The massive project began in honor of the community centennial, celebrated in 1992, but is continuing in the spirit of service to the community, said Elaine S. McKay, chairman of Bountiful Birthday Gift Citizens Committee.

The city of Bountiful was incorporated with its current name, taken from the Book of Mormon, on Dec. 14, 1892. Although the city was founded in 1847, it was first called Sessions Settlement and between 1847 and 1892, it was also called North Canyon, after one of the canyons southeast of town.

"Membership doesn't require dues or attendance at meetings, but rather small acts of kindness," said Sister McKay. "Everyone belongs. The gifts we give are to one another."

As chairman of the committee, she mailed a message to 37,801 residents of Utah's "second settlement," asking, "What are you giving Bountiful for her birthday?"

As the months passed, the response was overwhelming.

Nine religious denominations, 61 civic and service organizations, some 5,270 individuals and numerous neighborhood groups provided services for the community. Total value of the service rendered was estimated at $500,000. This estimate does not include countless intangible benefits, and additional significant efforts are continuing.

"People gave what they had," said Sister McKay. "Construction companies came with heavy equipment to dislodge dead trees and truck away trash. Children brought buckets in which to carry off small rocks. Bountiful city's elected and appointed officials provided funds and expertise and joined volunteers to erase eye-sores on city property. Hundreds of people from throughout town gathered on vacant lots, parkways, or at neighborhood homes to clean debris, lay sod, or plant flowers.

"Although of different ages, sizes, professions, ideologies, and interests, we discovered that we all hold a rake or shovel in much the same way," said Sister McKay.

Founding members of the committee met on March 14, 1992. In August 1992, the committee created two divisions: Giving Something Mor (Motivators, Organizers, Recorders) and Giving Something Bac (Bountiful Action Committee).

Two years later, the staff members of the Bountiful Birthday Gift Committee continue to gather information about on-going gifts of service. Reports are stored - with other memorabilia - in a time capsule that will be placed in an appropriate location and opened when Bountiful is 125 years old.

Using the boundaries of stakes and wards of the Church, each division was composed of 10 areas and 71 neighborhoods, most of which were led by couples.

Among the projects were:

Neighbors found a family in need, then cleaned and painted their entire home, inside and out.

More than 100 people gathered on a large vacant lot. Bringing heavy and light equipment, rakes, and a sprinkling system, they removed trash, trimmed trees and planted grass.

Two young land developers gave a 20-acre park to the city.

A women's service organization donated a set of encyclopedias to the library.

School children planted trees and flowers on the school grounds.

An internationally known award-winning women's chorus, the Sweet Adelines, presented a free concert.

People from throughout Bountiful helped clear and landscape two acres of vacant land.

Two young mothers with small children spent a day painting the city's fire hydrants.

One neighborhood group laid a sprinkling system, poured cement, and cleared trash to renovate a city park.

A variety of individual and group gifts have enriched family and community life.

Others said "Happy Birthday Bountiful" by presenting a play, providing a pavilion, donating a quilt, sponsoring a Bountiful flag-design contest, establishing monuments, writing a book, creating a painting, providing playground equipment, or sponsoring a garden show.

Sister McKay said many of the gifts were individual and from the heart.

"We're pleased to be invited to be part of a collaboration with the community," said the Rev. Rudolph A. Daz of St. Olaf's Catholic Church and a founding member of the Bountiful Birthday Gift Committee. "We're deeply grateful to all who helped us give our gift. We couldn't have done it alone."

The Mission Statement of the on-going Bountiful Birthday Gift Committee encourages appreciation for the city's history and its current qualities; individual responsibility in such areas as cleanliness, safe streets, beautification, preparedness, recycling, and education; a feeling of belonging, and a commitment to leave a legacy. Simply stated, the multi-purpose mission statement invites each person to: "Be a light."

"We have no non-members,' " said Sister McKay. "Everyone belongs. We may have a diversity of backgrounds, interests, churches, families, and ideas, but we've found important principles and values upon which we agree. We're enjoying aBountiful Harvest,' and we're planting for the future."

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