1 of 10
Karen Lake, Santa Margarita California Stake
Julia Dapper from Rancho Santa Margarita works on sewing the batting into a blanket with her daughter Liza, 10, at Santa Margarita California Stake's Humanitarian Day.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — More than more than 100 women and children from the seven wards of the Santa Margarita California Stake Relief Society helped create hygiene kits for adults, children and babies on the morning of Thursday, July 11, in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kits included items such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diaper wipes, baby bottles and even small stuffed animals. All the kits were grouped and inserted into zip seal bags for easy distribution.

Emergency preparedness was just a small part of the Santa Margarita California Stake Humanitarian Day at the Mormon meetinghouse in Southern California. Lap blankets and shawls to keep their patients warm were made for the Lake Forest Nursing Center and the local veterans hospital. Many women like Julia Dapper and Lauri Meredith, both of the Santa Margarita Ward, and Melanie Hoopes, of the Live Oak Canyon Ward, brought their sewing machines to help in the effort.

Tina Ortiz, of the Santa Margarita Ward, said her 11-year-old son, John, begged to come to the activity. “When we got here, he first worked at the hygiene kit table and then wanted to know what to do next. I told him that he should find a table and ask how he could help. He did just that and the Mormon ladies at the table taught him how to make a tie quilt.”

Asking young John Ortiz what was the hardest part about sewing the quilt he said, “Getting the needle through is the hardest.”

Other organizations benefitting from projects completed at the event included the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, South County Outreach, Ronald McDonald House and a local women’s shelter.

Jessica Hoopes, 7, assisted her sister, Raquel Hoopes, 17, of the Live Oak Canyon Ward, in making a tie quilt. When asked about her favorite part of the morning of service, Jessica said, “The treats of course.”

Not all those in attendance came for the treats. Cindy Suman, of the Santa Margarita Ward, said her favorite part of the morning was "the friendship and love I feel as I work together with good women to reach out to the community. That is what Relief Society is all about.”

Karen Lake lives in Southern California and has served as the media director for the Santa Margarita Stake for more than six years. She has published more than 500 articles, and when she isn't writing she is performing or teaching voice lessons.