Striving to make a difference

Elise Jenkins believes that one person with a goal can make a big difference.

It doesn't matter that this member of the Harrison Ward, Springfield Missouri South Stake, is just 17 years old, or that her goal - to persuade Hollywood producers to make more "G-rated films" - would seem overwhelming to most adults.All that matters to her is that she not "accept things as if nothing can be done."

Last summer, Elise, a junior at Valley Springs High School in Everton, Ark., watched a movie with her little sister. She decided she could no longer trust Hollywood.

"It has always been my pet peeve to watch a movie and see something that didn't need to be there, stuff that could be taken out so easily that nobody would notice," she said, explaining she just wants more "good movies" at the box office to choose from.

Why can't producers make "G-rated" versions of popular films, she asked her mother when she got home from the movie. Her mother suggested she ask producers the same question.

So for her Laurel project, Elise drafted a letter with an attached petition. In the letter she urged others to support family movies, as "financial reward is what makes producers' decisions," and to sign the petition requesting "more good, wholesome, family entertainment." Ward members helped her post the letter on the Internet.

"We all know the devastating effects pornography can have on us," she said in the letter. "The Lord's name taken in vain is commonplace wherever we go. We're becoming desensitized to everything, including violence and death."

Elise knew many people in her own community would support her, but she never imagined the response the letter would bring.

The local newspaper wrote an article about the high school student and her cause. A woman from Georgia and a bishop in Alaska called, asking how they could help. A man she had never met before gave her a personal check to help cover the project's expenses. Sup

porters are forwarding her petition to friends and family members around the country.

Elise, who has gathered about 2,000 signatures, hopes to send 1 million signatures and a letter to Hollywood producers, showing them that there is an audience for "G-rated" films.

And even if her efforts hit deaf ears, she said her time on the project will have been worthwhile.

"The woman from Georgia called me and said, `This is an issue that my husband and I have been talking about for a long time. We thought we are just two people so we can't do anything about this,' " recalled Elise. "Then they saw this petition and a 17-year-old girl was trying to do something about it. . . .

"I guess you can never tell what will happen," she continued. "I am trying to make a difference. I hope I can."

Elise credits much of her ambition to the Church. "I feel like this Church makes us strive to better ourselves and I think we all should do just that," she said. "One of the things that this Church has taught me is to stand up for what is right despite what people think."

She just hopes that others will follow her lead and work for what they believe in their own communities. "We can all do a little and make a big difference," she said.

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