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LDS stakes in Southeast taking part in service day

By Robert Walsh

Mormon Times

Published: Saturday, April 18 2009 12:06 a.m. MDT

Mormon service will be breaking out all over the southeastern United States on Saturday, April 25.Debora Haring, public affairs director of the Fort Myers Florida Stake, said Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged 96 stakes in the Southeast to set up a day of service. The challenge was issued last August, and \"Day of Service 2009\" was to take place in all areas on the same day.The Fort Myers Stake came up with the idea for \"Reel Fun, Real Friends,\" a free fishing event for special needs children and adults. The stake planned the event in conjunction with state and regional parks so that participants would be provided with fishing equipment and bait — with no fishing licenses required. The event will be held at parks in three locations — Fort Myers, Naples and Osprey, Fla. Haring said, \"Our goal was to have everybody in the stake participate in some way.\" Even the Primary children helped by creating badges and bracelets for participants.Preparedness fairs are planned in such areas as Savannah, Ga.; Petal, Miss.;  Alabaster, Ala.; Columbia, S.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Glasgow, Ky.; Goldsboro, N.C.; Kissimmee, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; and English, Ind.For many of the projects, Mormons are teaming up with other churches and community organizations. Brad Cook, second counselor in the Quitman (Mississippi) Branch, is directing the project in his area, where at least 15 Latter-day Saints will help paint a historic house in nearby Stonewall, Miss., that is being renovated by the Stonewall Historical Society. Cook said the town started in the 1860s with a cotton mill, which closed a few years ago, and the house is part of the mill's legacy.\"The society was working on a federal grant, but it fell through,\" Cook said, so church members committed to help paint the house.Among the other service events planned in other areas of the Southeast on April 25 are a cemetery cleanup in Richmond, Ky.; refurbishing a park in Bogalusa, La.; repairing and weatherizing homes in Memphis, Tenn.; spring cleaning at the zoo in Jackson, Miss.; filling food banks in North Carolina towns; painting homes of low-income residents in the Pompano Beach Florida Stake; home repairs in Waycross, Ga.; and installing smoke alarms in New Boston, Texas. And in Charlotte, N.C., President Tom Cheney of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake will be helping prominent clergymen as they work to build a Habitat for Humanity house.Karla Brandau, of Atlanta, the North America Southeast Area director of public affairs, said an important aspect of the service is for Mormons to link arms with other churches and community organizations.\"It's gotten people out of the cultural hall into the communities.\"\"Day of Service 2009\" coincides with Global Youth Service Day and National Volunteer Week. For more information and to see details of all the projects in the Southeast, visit dayofservice.org.


E-mail: rwalsh@desnews.com

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