At Christmastime Church members around the world celebrate Christ's birth by serving their fellowmen.
"Somehow in the magic of this season, there is less of hate and more of love, there is less of greed and more of giving, there is less of indifference and more of gratitude," President Gordon B. Hinckley said during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Dec. 3. "If only for a brief season, we are inclined to lay aside our selfishness and reach out to help others."Among those who have demonstrated concern for others at this season are:
Seminary students in Raymond, Alberta, who decorated 56 dozen sugar cookies for numerous people in their community.
Missionaries in the Philippines who prepared a fruit basket for a woman who remains paralyzed after a stroke.
A family in New Jersey who gathered stamps, shampoo, lotion and other items for home-bound elderly people in their neighborhood.
And other Church members everywhere celebrate the magic of the Christmas season by reaching out to others.
Brad Hill, principal of the Raymond Alberta Seminary, said Christmas is a natural time to teach students about serving others.
"The whole focus of seminary is to help students come unto Christ," he said, emphasizing that Christmas is the season. "The Lord says that when you have done it `unto the least of my brethren you have done it unto me.' The best present these students can give Him is doing something for someone else. That probably gives Him the most happiness."
He called the seminary's service project, in which students made and delivered cookies to community members, a small effort that will mushroom into bigger things.
"I know this was just a small project. But I think the more you serve the more you get a taste for it. The Lord blesses you with nice feelings. I think the students will be prompted to try serving others again."
Elder L. Ray Huff and his wife, Sister Karma J. Huff, - leadership missionaries in the Philippines Cabanatuan Mission - called service one way to express their love for their Heavenly Father and their brothers and sisters.
For the Huffs, Christmas is a just another opportunity to serve. During this Christmas seasons, they delivered a box of food, a fruit basket and sang Christmas carols to an elderly woman who was paralyzed after a stroke. Before that, with the help of local Church members and other missionaries, the couple rebuilt the floor and ceiling of the woman's home - which was in serious disrepair.
Kayleene Blaylock, of the Princeton 2nd Ward, East Brunswick New Jersey Stake, wanted to help her three sons, age 1 though 5, learn service - to bring them closer to the Savior. She called Christmas a good starting point.
"Our hearts are more open and we are thinking more of the Savior at Christmas time, so we think of others," she explained. "For us it was a good time to begin to learn."
She said her boys have enjoyed preparing baskets filled with essentials for older people who can not leave their home. She and her husband, Michael, made a goal to repeat the service project at least two times before next Christmas - therefore keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long.