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‘It just always brings me joy’: How youth and young adults are using JustServe, from high school clubs to service projects


During the school lunch period, many teenagers might go outside, hang out and socialize or catch up on homework. But around 20 students in Williamson County, Tennessee, spent two days during their lunch period tying blankets.

The group is the Page High School JustServe Club, and the students were involved in a service project for Love on Wheels — an organization that gives basic necessities to children entering the foster care system. The high schoolers finished the blankets and delivered them to Love on Wheels before Christmas in 2021.

Hailey Parker, a member of that high school JustServe club, spoke about their service in a video for the Church’s April 2022 World Report. “I love seeing the impact we have on others,” she said.

Parker is one of a growing number of teens and young adults who are using JustServe to find joy in service, develop leadership skills and draw closer to Jesus Christ.

Finding service opportunities

JustServe is platform, through the website and app, where volunteers can connect with organizations needing help and find service projects to do. It is searchable by ZIP code, with filters for different skills or interests.

Austin Bradley, a senior and student body president at Woods Cross High School in Utah, brought JustServe to his high school and added a link to JustServe to the school’s website.
He told the Church News podcast that at first, when he had the idea, he was a little nervous about it. It seemed like a huge task. He talked it over with his dad, Heath Bradley, who is the JustServe Global Manager.

Church News podcast, episode 78: How youth and young adults are changing lives using JustServe

“When we serve, we can see that we can do these things, and if we come together, it can happen,” said Austin Bradley. “And so by being all in and being determined, I did add the JustServe widget to my high school’s web page. And it’s been an awesome, great way for students to find local opportunities, and interests that they like to serve.”

Bradley said his father introduced JustServe to their family, and they have used it for everything from writing letters to veterans and participating in a Day of Service and many other unique opportunities. He also traveled to Puerto Rico with his father on a service trip after Hurricane Maria.

He met a lady who showed them how grateful she was for them being there to serve and help her. He said that the connection he made with her through service was the best feeling he could get.

And that’s why he has tried in his high school to share this message of service with his fellow teenagers, and show them how they can use JustServe.

“Service allows you to find your interests, and what you want to do with your life and how you want to serve, how you want to help out other people in your community,” said Bradley.

Joy in service

McKaylee Burton, 22, is a stake Relief Society president in the Layton Utah YSA Stake. She told the Church News podcast that she didn’t know that much about JustServe until she got involved in her young single adult ward.

“I was so disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it before then, because it’s just so easy and convenient, and a great way for anybody of any comfort level to find a service project that kind of fits their personality and what they like to do,” said Burton. The more she got to know the website, the more she fell in love with it.

McKaylee Burton is a stake Relief Society president who has helped spearhead several service activities, including collecting socks for the homeless.

McKaylee Burton is a stake Relief Society president who has helped spearhead several service activities, including collecting socks for the homeless.

Credit: Provided by McKaylee Burton

Now, along with her peers, she has helped organize projects like a food collection and toy donation for the Layton Utah Temple construction workers and their families, and socks for the homeless.
Burton said she tells other young single adults that once they serve, they cannot fight that good feeling that comes.
“That’s a feeling that I get that the adversary cannot mimic, right? The peace that I get from serving,” she said. “It just always brings me joy… I want to have that smile on my face always, and I want to put that smile on everybody else’s face if I can.”

Church News podcast, episode 62: Service at Christmas and beyond, with JustServe Global Manager Heath Bradley

Developing leadership

In February, four JustServe high school clubs in Tennessee volunteered at a wheelchair basketball tournament organized by ABLE Youth on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. 

The JustServe volunteers cheered for the players, sorted 285 T-shirts, and ran them to the teams playing in the tournament.

The Church’s World Report pointed out that many of those students are also part of the Tennessee Promise Scholarship, which pays for their first two years of college.

The scholarship includes a critical component that students also serve in their communities, said Franklin County Mayor David Alexander. And the JustServe high school clubs fit right in with that requirement: “I thought, this is tailor-made for what we are doing right now.”

“There are more and more children taking advantage of the Tennessee promise, and more children using JustServe,” said Alexander, former Tennessee state legislator. “That’s not accidental, that’s providential.”

Being a student body president means Bradley is in a leadership position at his high school in Utah, and he said service is “the best way to step up and really be a leader and be a servant to our Heavenly Father.” 

And service helped Burton’s leadership as well when she was called to be a stake Relief Society president.

“I remember just being so overwhelmed, and as I kind of started getting in the groove of things, I realized how much service was a part of my calling. And, genuinely, if I did not have a testimony of service, I would not be able to have the calling that I do and have the opportunity to serve the Lord in the capacity that I am,” she said.

This week, Bradley was called to serve in the Vancouver Washington Mission and assigned to proselyte in Spanish.

As he is preparing for that opportunity, he has been thinking about the best way to be a servant of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and represent Them. He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 4:2: “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.”

Bradley said, “When I’m putting all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength, and all my heart into service, it’s been one of the best ways that I’ve come closer to my Heavenly Father, ultimately, prepping me to be a servant, that would worthily represent Him to people interested in learning about the gospel.”

Drawing closer to Christ

Bradley also pointed to Mosiah 2:17: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”

McKaylee Burton is a stake Relief Society president who has helped spearhead several service activities, including Angels in Action, a weeklong service celebration.

McKaylee Burton is a stake Relief Society president who has helped spearhead several service activities, including Angels in Action, a weeklong service celebration.

Credit: Provided by McKaylee Burton

He said one of the best ways he becomes close to God is to serve: For me through service, the biggest relationship is with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior.”

Ninth and 10th grades were difficult for him, but his parents were there to help and encourage him. 

“One of the biggest ways that they helped me come back to Heavenly Father and come back to the Savior and really get to know them was through service, and I’m just so grateful for that,” said Bradley. 

Burton said the biggest relationship she has gained through service is her relationship with the Lord. She shared a story about how at the end of high school, she had wanted to serve a mission. But when she prayed about it, she got the answer that that was not her path nor where the Lord wanted her to be.

She felt devastated and also angry, and she distanced herself from God for a time. But as she got more involved with her young single adult ward and stake, she knew she wanted to make her way back to Christ and get that relationship back with Him.

“The thing that I was taught growing up, that I knew the best, was to serve, and so I started trying to do as many things as I could, whether small or big, and the impact that that’s had on my relationship with my Savior is absolutely incredible,” Burton said.

“I credit service, being the reason I feel so confident in my relationship with the Savior now. And over time, I’ve had many great friends and peers that I’ve been able to grow close to, but the one that has stayed the most consistent and that stands out the most and is the biggest blessing is the relationship that it gave me again with my Savior.”

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