BETA

Shining Moment: A yearning to bless

Christine Callender is a young mother who felt a compelling need to do more for her elderly friends than she was already doing as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

"She's always helping people," said her husband, Marty. "She always has been."

"I love the older generation," Christine said. "They have so much to offer. But they can get lonely."

The Callenders, with their 2 1/2-year-old twins, Katie and Kelly, live in the North Shores Ward, Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake. They moved there in 1999 following Sister Callender's graduation from Brigham Young University and her service in the military.

"I thrive on challenges," she said, explaining why she enlisted in the Army ROTC program while in college and how she later gained notoriety as Utah's first female to fly an Apache helicopter.

Making her family her focus, Sister Callender traded her wings for an early-morning paper route to support the family finances. Despite being terrific toddlers, the twins didn't leave her much discretionary time.

Still, she felt a lingering yearning to bless the lives of the elderly beyond what she was already doing. Soon it would be Christmas and she wondered what more she might do.

"At first, I didn't feel I had much to offer," she said. "But as I thought about it, I realized I did have something to give."

She didn't expect to "make a huge dent," but she realized that any dollar she raised would sustain the program. So she offered to donate any tips she received from her newspaper route during December to the Meals on Wheels program.

She then figured that others would participate if they knew. So she wrote a letter to her newspaper subscribers and invited them to donate. Out of 350 subscribers, 347 contributed. She collected $880.

She estimated that the contribution would feed a senior citizen one hot meal a day for 14 1/2 months.

"It was a little embarrassing," she said, referring to the attention she received for her efforts. She organized the effort again for Christmas 2000. Everyone chipped in again, she said. But this time she kept a lower profile. "We gave anonymously for the joy of giving," she said.

— Shaun D. Stahle

Another in a series of "Shining Moments."

Illustrated by John Clark