LDS retirement branch serves by making ponchos

Published: Sunday, Oct. 9 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Workers at the Utah State Developmental Center unload some of the 200 ponchos made by members of the American Fork 38th Retirement Branch as part of their day of service.

Ted Christensen

Come rain or snow, residents of the Utah State Developmental Center now have protection against the elements, thanks to 200 fleece-lined ponchos presented to the center by the American Fork 38th Retirement Branch. When President Henry B. Eyring in April's general conference invited members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to participate in a day of service, branch President Harold Reynolds asked members of the branch council to suggest ways in which branch members might comply with President Eyring's invitation.

Ted and Nola Christensen, members of the branch council, had previously served at the Utah State Developmental Center and contacted Sherilyn Kent at the center to see if there were any needs that the branch could fill. She told of the need for fleece-lined ponchos to protect the residents as they are transported from their residences to other buildings on the campus.

The Christensens made a sample poncho and presented it to the branch council, which wholeheartedly accepted the project of making 200 fleece-lined ponchos for presentation to the Developmental Center.

With generous financial contributions from branch members and by some judicious shopping, the branch was able to purchase the ponchos at a 30 percent discount and 200 fleece blankets. A work day was scheduled at the stake center at which members of the branch, all of whom are older than 55 years of age, gathered. Fleece blankets were spread out on work tables where the members proceeded to cut them to size and shape. The blankets were then taken to the sewing tables where other members of the branch did the sewing.

Members of the branch were able to complete only about 100 ponchos on the first day, so another work day was scheduled at which the brethren finished cutting the fleece blankets. Those blankets and the ponchos were then distributed to the women of the branch in batches of five or 10 to be completed.

The completed ponchos were presented to Guy Thompson, director of the center, on Thursday, Sept. 29. Thompson expressed his appreciation to Rene Luthi, second counselor in the branch, saying the ponchos will keep the 220 residents of the center dry in the summer rains and warm in the summer snows.

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