They were only 54 people in the Harmony Institute training class when the instructor issued their assignment: Do a weeklong service project.
Seven days later, 2,000 care packages for battered women and their children are ready to be delivered to shelters in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Houses for low-income families will be furnished with appliances in St. George. A school is raising money in Arizona.The group was going through "impact training" at the Harmony Institute, a South Salt Lake experience seminar, when facilitator Stacy Schwab made the challenge Feb. 21.
The group - with members from Utah, Idaho, Arizona, California, Nevada and Ohio - embraced it. For the past seven days, they have called on businesses, friends, neighbors and strangers to raise money and solicit donations.
The care packages will be delivered Saturday to shelters in Utah County, South Jordan, Salt Lake and Ogden. In them, women will find lotions and movie passes, toothbrushes and gift certificates for haircuts, massage and eye exams. The gifts won't ease the pain of lives in crisis, but this group hopes the gifts will let the women know someone cares.
Robert Bishop said he's amazed at what the small group has accomplished in such a short time.
The owner of Zinc Software in Utah County, Bishop said his only previous service projects were small, church-related ones. The father of five found himself calling national headquarters of businesses with Utah outlets to ask for donations.
"I'm amazed at what was created in just a few days by just regular people," Bishop said.
The group has collected about $50,000 worth of donations.
Brett Harward, who owns a Phoenix software company, oversaw the efforts of the 13 group members from outside Utah. He said they'll distribute 700 care packages this weekend and about 800 more next month. The Phoenix Police Department has even committed to 1,000 care packages, Harward said.