Meet the ‘Service Dudes’ — 2 young men who began a club to serve others around Arizona

Arizona high schoolers used JustServe to earn service hours for college applications. Now their friends and siblings are continuing their efforts

When Elder Jonah Alexander and Elder Deacon Jones, currently serving as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were in high school in Gilbert, Arizona, they wanted to get service hours to put on their college applications.

Using JustServe — a website and app where local nonprofit organizations and community groups list volunteer opportunities — the two friends from the Durango Ward in the Gilbert Arizona Highland East Stake began to take part in service projects around their city.

They invited friends and family to join them and soon had 20-30 people serving together in what they called “Service Dudes.”

Members of the Service Dudes listen to instructions before a service project benefitting refugees in Gilbert, Arizona.
Members of the Service Dudes listen to instructions before a service project benefitting refugees in Gilbert, Arizona, June 23, 2023. | Lisa Bailey

Along the way, they had fun and felt good about themselves and what they were doing for the community. They gained valuable experience for their college applications and preparation for their full-time missions. 

“Service Dudes has helped me hone the skills of leadership, planning and communication,” said Elder Jones. “It has also shown me the type of person I want to become by being surrounded by inspiring people. Serving has helped me establish my self-worth and become a confident and happy person, proud of what I do.”

And Elder Alexander said: “Service Dudes has been a blessing in my life. It has helped me build skills used for leadership and for the benefit of others. It helped show how much just one idea could benefit a group of friends and how much they could benefit a community. Service has helped me realize how much people can benefit from my actions.”

Elder Alexander is headed to the England Bristol Mission and Elder Jones to the Florida Orlando Mission, where he will be speaking Mandarin.

Elder Jonah Alexander and Elder Deacon Jones in white shirts, ties and missionary badges at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Elder Jonah Alexander, left, and Elder Deacon Jones, right, at the Provo Missionary Training Center before heading to their assigned missions, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. | Provided by Kimbie Alexander

‘We are all God’s children’

Although the two founders are now on missions and then heading to college, the group they started will still continue through the help of their friends and younger siblings.

In fact, the Service Dudes are meeting again later this month to package sack lunches for the homeless in Gilbert.

Elder Alexander’s younger brother, Caleb Alexander, 15, found the activity on JustServe.

“I feel like when you think of these people, they are just people like us — just with more struggles. It makes you feel happy that you are born in the Church with people you can ask for help,” Caleb said.

His sister Libby Alexander, 17, said: “We are all God’s children. Since we are all brothers and sisters we should help out everyone.”

The Service Dudes take part in a JustServe project helping refugees in Gilbert, Arizona.
The Service Dudes, a group started by Jonah Alexander and Deacon Jones, take part in a JustServe project helping refugees in Gilbert, Arizona, June 23, 2023. Now-Elder Jones is second from right. Second from left is Caleb Alexander, then fourth from left is Libby Alexander, in purple, standing by her brother, now-Elder Alexander in blue. | Kiimbie Alexander

She said the Service Dudes will continue to plan service projects, and she is grateful for the impact service has on her life. 

“I think that service adds a good positive aspect to life. As a teenager, it can be hard to do something for other people because we have so much going on. It’s a good reminder that other people exist, too,” she said.

Mom Kimbie Alexander said when Elder Alexander and Elder Jones got started, they found out that they really enjoyed serving.

“They had some great experiences and such a variety of service projects that they did,” she said. “My son would come home and tell me how good he felt or that he didn’t know this population was in need, just depending on what they did that day.”

She would sometimes check in or try to help, but the two young men took charge.

“Occasionally, someone they were serving would mention something else and they would get referred. But most of it was from JustServe,” Alexander said. “They really rallied their friends. I couldn’t believe how many showed up each week.”

Caleb Alexander and Libby Alexander dressed up for an event in Gilbert, Arizona. They are using JustServe to find service projects.
Caleb Alexander, 15, and Libby Alexander, 17, in Gilbert, Arizona, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The siblings continue to use JustServe to do service projects with Service Dudes, a group started by their older brother and his best friend. | Kimbie Alexander

‘You will fall in love with service’

Lisa Bailey — the Highland East Stake JustServe specialist at the time — helped Elder Alexander and Elder Jones when they began serving around 18 months ago.

“They would contact me and ask, ‘What can we do?’ Bailey said. “And then they got so good at getting on JustServe and finding their own projects and they would just go and do and serve. They are awesome.”

Bailey, who now helps with JustServe for the 14 stakes in the Gilbert Coordinating Council, said the Service Dudes can be an example for other youth.

“I think people are just hungry for something real and these real connections that they make with people that they are serving,” Bailey said.

The Alexander family and Deacon Jones unload a truck with supplies gathered for a JustServe project in Gilbert, Arizona.
The Alexander family and Deacon Jones unload a truck with supplies gathered for a JustServe project in Gilbert, Arizona, September 2022. | Kimbie Alexander

She said service prepared Elder Alexander and Elder Jones for their missions — they were learning something new, doing hard things, meeting new people and practicing leadership skills. 

“It’s just hand in hand — service and missionary work,” she said. 

Bailey said people of all ages should just jump in and serve.

“You will fall in love with service and you will fall in love with the people you serve. It will change your heart,” she said. “I think that’s what’s happening here in Gilbert. One person at a time we are changing people’s hearts.”

Related Stories
‘Service changed my life’: The protective factor of service in combating feelings of depression and anxiety
See how Idaho teens are getting involved with JustServe over the summer
Teenagers give advice on how to start a JustServe school club
High schoolers form JustServe clubs and reap the blessings of service
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed