by Lisa Fisher, Killeen Stake Media Specialist
For all but the youngest in our society, Sept. 11, 2001, is a day never to be forgotten — and for those too young to remember, we must teach and help them to understand. Numerous lives were lost and so many more were impacted by the horrific attacks against our country on that fateful day.
We as a country were united in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks. In an attempt to help keep us united, by a joint resolution approved Dec. 18, 2001, (Public Law 107-89), Congress designated Sept. 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13 (April 21, 2009), Congress has requested the observance of Sept. 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”
Unfortunately, too many in this country don’t know about the Day of Service and have forgotten feelings of unity that were experienced as we moved forward together, resolved to not be broken by such a callous and evil act.
In honor and support of this congressional declaration, this Sept. 11, the Killeen Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in various service-related projects across the greater Killeen area.
For example, the Killeen 2nd Ward chose to support The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 147 in downtown Killeen. In preparation for the installment of a new concrete drainage system on their property, the chapter needed people to remove the existing rock drainage system. Twenty-eight church members showed up with gloves, wheelbarrows and buckets to haul away rocks and prep the area for the new system.
Clair Stringham, who volunteers as a counselor in the bishopric, a leader of the congregation, said, “We chose this project because it gave our ward the greatest latitude to get everyone involved.” He explained that the Relief Society women’s organization and youth group would also be doing a project on Sept. 16.
In another example, approximately 50 volunteers from the Copperas Cove 1st Ward, along with some new friends from the community, performed a cleanup project of the Copperas Cove City Cemetery. They spent three hours cleaning the grounds by trimming overgrown bushes and trees, edging and trimming around and between headstones where the mowers can’t get, cleaning out leaves and vines from the fence line in the “Babyland” section of the cemetery and by cleaning a significant number of headstones.
A large cross that sits at the entrance to the cemetery also got a new coat of paint. When asked why they had chosen this particular project, Bishop Jeff Fisher said, “We wanted a project that would allow all to participate, no matter their age.” The youngest was 4 years old, and she and other children helped to clean headstones. Church members of all ages served together.
Also assisting with the cleanup were eight full-time missionaries who are assigned to serve in the Killeen Stake. With a great turnout and the amount of work completed, the project was deemed a success, with the City of Copperas Cove benefiting from efforts by those who participated.
Various other ward congregations also got involved in their communities with projects supporting groups like Texas Humane Heroes, Angels on the Horizon and Keep Nolanville Beautiful. Killeen 1st Ward teamed up with the Military Family Advisory Network, the Killeen Food Care Center, Tyson Foods and others to distribute 75 pounds of food per family to Fort Hood military families in need.
The Killeen Stake leadership rolled out this plan for the Day of Service several months ago and encouraged JustServe representative, Christy Young, to educate members of the community about the JustServe.org website. Young has been diligently working to identify needs within the community and get projects listed on the website so people can more easily find ways to serve.
With an inspired desire for Latter-day Saints to continue serving in their communities, the stake’s leadership extended the National Day of Service to a “Week of Service” with Sept. 11 being the kick-off. The invitation is for all to continue doing acts of service within their families, wards and communities throughout the week following Sept. 11.
This Week of Service also allows opportunities for youth to participate in their own service projects as well as the Relief Societies women’s and Elders Quorums men’s groups. All are encouraged to invite friends to participate in their various service activities and to share the JustServe.org resource.
For this year’s Day of Service joint effort between The Church and the community as they partnered with various charitable and non-profit groups, new friendships were forged, clarity and understanding replaced misconceptions and much good was accomplished.
With coordination efforts led by Young, Latter-day Saints and friends in the Killeen Stake made progress in getting the message out to the community of the power of the JustServe website. With the momentum created by this kick-off to a Week of Service, much more will be accomplished in the coming days.