After only one day of the Church’s Christmas campaign, a simple search online with the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD brings up thousands of photos and descriptions of people sharing service.
Whether it be a sentence on Twitter, a picture on Instagram, or sharing a personal experience or video on Facebook, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have accepted the challenge to become more like the Savior this Christmas season through service.
The Church’s campaign — presented in an advent calendar — provides ideas for people to serve “in 25 ways. Over 25 days.” “Since a new star first appeared above Bethlehem, Christmas has been a season of light, reminding us that Jesus Christ is the light of the world,” it says on Mormon.org. “Together, we can celebrate His birth by making the world a brighter place. All we have to do is follow Him — His life, His example, and His teachings. In doing so, we can help #LIGHTtheWORLD.”
Day one of the campaign — held during the 80th anniversary year of the Church Welfare plan — began Thursday, Dec. 1, with the invitation to participate in a Worldwide Day of Service.
“Much of what Christ did to serve others, is what the welfare program is all about,” said Steven Peterson, managing director of the Welfare Department for the Church. “Jesus healed the blind, the lame, and ministered to the hungry, poor and the needy. Our efforts with vision care, wheelchairs, food banks, refugee efforts and more are all attempts to follow the example of the Savior and do what He did.”
Thousands of Church members responded to the invitation to participate in the Worldwide Day of Service by serving in their homes, at work and in their communities in both grand and simple ways.
For the Checketts family, serving at McKay-Dee Hospital was a natural fit. Lynette Checketts shared on her Instagram:
“Each fragile baby gets a new blanket when they leave the NICU. Sometimes they go home with their blanket and sometimes the blanket is all the grieving parents get to take home. Our family has 3 of those special blankets. This year, we made 10 blankets to donate to the NICU in honor of our Caleb. Hopefully it will lift a burden. #LIGHTtheWORLD”
Elder Lowell M. Snow, emeritus General Authority Seventy, posted a picture of new shirts, socks and sweaters he had gathered and stacked on a table. His post read, “Found some winter clothes today for a family of refugees from Afganistan living in South Salt Lake. The world seems a little brighter now. ‘Jesus lifted others burdens and so can you.’ ”
Emily White posted on Facebook an experience she had a few years previous. “Over a decade ago we were preparing for the birth of our first child. I longed for our own Christmas tree, but knew the money should go towards doctor bills, diapers and clothing to wrap our newborn for a frigid Cleveland winter. I walked through the stores, looking longingly at lights, ornaments and tiny little trees and told myself, ‘Another year.’ I mentioned my silly Christmas wish to no one.
“One night, just before our daughter was born, our new friend in the faith, Michelle, a single working mom, arrived at our little apartment with her two boys, a Christmas tree, and Dollar store ornaments and lights. I was astonished, overwhelmed and deeply grateful for her generosity amid her own economic struggles.
“We laughed, cried and sang as they stayed to help us decorate our tree. That night I fell to my knees in awed humility and unspeakable joy with an absolute knowledge that God knew me and the smallest desires of heart, just as He knew and loved Michelle and her giving heart. I pray that I can have such a heart for the next 25 days as I try to #lighttheworld.”
Becky and Corlan Fawcett, parents of four young children age four and younger, made a plan during their Family Home Evening on Nov. 28 of how they would serve as a family. They decided to take food to their local food bank in Tooele, Utah.
“We wanted to plan stuff that the girls could help with and would allow us to teach them about service,” Sister Fawcett said. “So I let them help me gather food from our pantry.”
One of Sister Fawcett’s friends had offered — for her contribution to the Day of Service — to watch the Fawcett’s twin boys who are only a few months old.
“I left the boys with her and loaded the girls up,” she said. “We have a friend who has been having some health problems, and she asked if we could pick up a bag of food she had for the food bank as well. So we stopped there and got her food.”
The young girls, Emrie, 4, and Paisley, 2, helped their mother carry the food in and handed it to the workers at the food bank.
“We grabbed donuts after for our friend watching the boys,” Sister Fawcett said. “It turned out to be really fun. The girls got excited and have been talking about serving and what we can do to serve ever since.”
Whether it was sharing a thought on a social media platform online, donating food, writing an encouraging note to a friend, providing a treat to a neighbor, doing something to help a co-worker, serving in the temple or researching family history, each act of service has been helping to “light the world.”
Each day of December highlights a different action of the Savior and invites all to emulate His perfect example.
As it says on the campaign’s homepage online, “More and more people are making the world a brighter place this Christmas season.”
The daily advent calendar will be available on Mormon.org during the month of December.
[email protected] @marianne_holman