By Clairissa Cooper
Teens descended upon Flower Mound by the hundreds performing various acts of service as part of a youth conference hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The conference brought together 350 teens from the Flower Mound, Lewisville, Highland Village, and surrounding areas and encouraged them to “Go and Do” – the theme of the conference. The effort resulted in over 700 hours of combined service in one day and assisted a wide range of beneficiaries.
The youth divided into 18 groups with half of those going to various homes around the community to rake, weed, shovel, and dig to improve and restore landscaping where homeowners needed a helping hand.
Other impactful service included making homemade blankets to be donated to a local hospital, preparing freezer meals for the sick, painting, sewing, and visiting residents at assisted living centers.
“Service is important because it has underrated effects on us. It helps us feel better about ourselves, while helping others,” said Bryan Johnson, 16, a junior at Flower Mound High School. “Service makes me a better person. It really opens my mind and makes me want to help more people.”
The conference included speakers, activities, and fellowship with students ranging in age 13-18. However, it was the service that the youth really took to heart as they utilized what they learned to serve their community.
“For a community, it can be remarkably uplifting to receive help from people we live close to,” said Cannon Karchaske, young mens leader for the Church of Jesus Christ Lewisville Stake. “When we gather together to do good things, this not only builds unity and helps those we serve, but it allows the youth to experience for themselves how it feels to love their neighbors.”
Sydnie Stephens, 16, a junior at Founders Classical Academy acknowledged that service is hard, but worth it.
“Service is willing to look beyond yourself and your own comfort zones in order to help someone else,” she said. “The funny thing is, you might do great things for others, but you always find that you grow the most when you look outside yourself and serve.”
The teens didn’t know the people they were serving. They showed up with rakes, shovels, and work gloves at homes that were strangers to them. However, by the end of the experience, hands were shaken, smiles were exchanged, and hugs were freely given.
“The best part of the service project was talking to the woman we helped at the end. We could see how much it meant to her and it was really touching,” said Johnson.
“It is common in this generation to ‘stay and don’t do’ anything unless they really want to,” said Tricia Wilson, young women’s leader for the Church of Jesus Christ. “The theme of ‘Go and Do’ gets these teens out of their comfort zone and encourages their growth socially, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.”
Many of the service projects were found utilizing JustServe.org, a free site where volunteers of all ages can search for opportunities to serve in their communities.