Hundreds of service projects completed during North America Northwest Area Day of Service
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Reaching out with helping hands, thousands of Church volunteers throughout Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Alaska and Northern Idaho contributed over 100,000 hours of service during the second annual North America Northwest Day of Service.
This year’s service projects were scheduled throughout the month of September, with many happening on Saturday, Sept. 17. Volunteers included Church members of all ages who partnered with members of other faiths and civic organizations. More than 100 stakes completed 348 projects throughout September.
The Renton Washington Stake undertook more than two dozen projects in partnership with the city of Renton. Church members assembled goody bags for homeless children while other members provided fishing experiences to children with disabilities. Other projects included cleaning up trails in parks and along hiking paths.
In the West Salem, Oregon, area, members worked with employees of a local bank and a hiking group to clear weeds and place wood chips along jogging and hiking trails.
Stakes also planned events designed specifically for Young Men and Young Women, for example, that allowed older youth in the Bothell Washington Stake to help package more than 25,000 pounds of oats and string beans for Northwest Harvest, a non-profit hunger relief organization in Washington state.
"I decided I want to serve," said Baylee Bissenden, 16, continuing a tradition in their family of participating in the Northwest Day of Service. "It went really fast. Everyone kept saying how they could have gone on longer." Baylee serves on the student council at her high school and plans to encourage the council to do service with Northwest Harvest in the future.
Bothell Washington Stake members also collected 332 boxes of goods for the Ronald McDonald House by seeking donations from their neighbors and from local grocery stores.
“I believe this is the largest donation we have ever seen. In such a time of need for so many, I feel so grateful for the House and our families that your church selected the Ronald McDonald House as your service project. Most of our families experience financial strain while they are staying and really end up depending on using the pantry as a main source of food or as a supplement,” said Kaarin Stowel, operations manager at The Ronald McDonald House in Seattle.
In British Columbia, Church members partnered with other organizations to collect 247,000 pounds of food for The British Columbia Thanksgiving Food Drive. “At a time when this food is greatly needed due to donations being traditionally at a low in summer, this is a fantastic way to get the nutritious food we need to continue to serve the 27,000 weekly clients we serve,” said Doug Aason, Director of Community Investment of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.
More than 700 volunteers from the Redmond Washington Stake and their friends gave more than 2,200 hours and collected over 500 pounds of food in support of Hopelink, a local non-profit agency.
Local walking trails in the Lynwood Washington Stake area were improved by more than 100 Church volunteers who cleared and widened trails, cut brush and removed blackberry bushes, in part to thank the community for their support when one of the stake’s meetinghouses burned in an arson fire in October 2010. "We wanted to give back to the city of Mukilteo because they were helpful in helping us rebuild after the fire," said volunteer Chad Manivanh.
A hallmark of the Day of Service is partnership with other faiths, school districts, community agencies, neighborhood organizations and others. Project priorities are decided by local leaders and included gathering food and clothing for distribution to the poor and needy, sprucing up elderly housing and community centers, school and cemetery clean ups and letter-writing campaigns for overseas military personnel.
Day of Service chairs, Kim and Lois Nelson said, "The scope of volunteer service that has been given during this Day of Service in the North America Northwest Area is almost unbelievable. Tens of thousands of people giving hundreds of thousands of hours of service renews our hope and faith in the goodness of people. Congratulations and thank you to the LDS volunteers and our dedicated service partners for these life-changing contributions to our communities."