Local Mormons help Knoll Heights Village residents

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:44

SPARTA — On Saturday, July 23, the 150 senior citizen residents at Knoll Heights Village in Sparta were made a little safer. Over 60 members of the Sparta congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wearing the signature Mormon Helping Hands vests, partnered with the Village management to assemble and distribute an emergency kit to each resident in the complex. Each kit contained a flashlight, whistle, tuna fish packet, hard candies, water bottle, an envelope for important papers, and a list of items each resident could add to their kit. In the event of a community or personal emergency, the resident can then evacuate with all of their critical items in a single water-proof container. This project started with an opening ceremony that included brief comments from Bishop Robert Mathusek, Sparta Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith, and Village Executive Director Lisa Reidinger. In April, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked its members around the world to perform a Day of Service to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Church’s welfare program. Governor Chris Christie sent a letter saluting the congregations, church officials, and all involved. The Church’s welfare program began in 1936 to help Church members suffering from the devastating effects of the Great Depression in the United States. Today, that welfare program has expanded to all corners of the globe and stresses self-reliance as a way of life, including education, health, employment, family home production and storage, family finances, and spiritual strength. The objective of the program is to care for those in need while teaching principles that will not only help those in need become self-reliant, but also retain their self-respect. In short, this program helps people help themselves. Community service has long been a part of the Latter-day Saints Church culture, but in 1998 the Church formally launched the Mormon Helping Hands program to provide community service and disaster relief. Around the world, Church members wearing yellow vests with the Mormon Helping Hands logo can be found cleaning up after floods or tornadoes, beautifying parks, and walking along highways cleaning up trash. In recent years, the Church welfare program has provided support, supplies and services following the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the tsunami in Indonesia, and the Japanese earthquake, among numerous other disasters. Now, they can add Knoll Heights Village emergency preparedness as one more success. Jane Morse, a former resident at the Village and a Mormon Helping Hands volunteer in a wheelchair said, “It was fun to see some of my old friends and serve them with my church friends.” Councilwoman Whilesmith said, “We are all blessed to live in this vibrant and wonderful town. We are surrounded by beautiful hills and stunning lakes and parks. However...every one of us has heard about difficulties in our economy. Sometimes, during these rough times our true character shines.”