Members are rolling up their sleeves, finding their paintbrushes and sharpening their shovels as they prepare to provide local community service to areas throughout New Zealand on 23 February 2013.
“’Mormon Helping Hands Day’ enables members and friends of the Church to give of their time and talents to make their communities better places in which to live,” according to John McLean, one of the organizers of a community project on Auckland’s North Shore.
“It also helps us all, including our young people, to develop great pride in our community.”
Michael Higgins, announced this week that Mormon volunteers would be painting buildings belonging to another faith group this year.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will welcome an expected 200 volunteers who will be blazing trails, weeding, mulching and working on restoring the environment around Owhiro Stream.
Martin Payne, leader of the community group, ‘Friends of Owhiro Stream,’ says he is pleased to welcome the volunteers. “I enjoy seeing young children working alongside their parents — it gives us a real sense of community.”
Volunteers in Porirua will cut scrub, remove rubbish and garden at Ngatitoa and Windley schools.
Members and friends from Upper Hutt will be working at Papawai Marae in Greytown, Wairarapa. The marae has historical significance to Latter-day Saints because the first permanent branch of the Church among Maori was established there in August 1883.
There are now over 200 congregations throughout New Zealand. Most will be involved, in some way, in over 20 different community improvement initiatives on 23 February. In addition, some congregations will organize other service projects at other times during the year based on local needs.
Even though Latter-day Saints have placed strong emphasis on improving their neighbourhoods, towns and cities since the Church was organized in 1830, ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ has only been an organized, worldwide, community service approach since 2000.
Since that time more than 1.5 million hours of voluntary service have been given throughout the world.
Members also assist, where possible, when there are major disasters in places as diverse as Japan, Haiti and Samoa.
In many cases, community and humanitarian service is provided by Latter-day Saints alongside representatives of other churches, charities and government agencies.
Last year New Zealand songwriter and performer Dionne Shaw wrote a song about Mormon Helping Hands volunteerism. Read more and watch a music video featuring the song here.