Serving With Smiles in the News

By Brandon Loomis, The Salt Lake Tribune, December 14, 2008

It started with just two families gathering up soap bars, toothbrushes and combs -- the basic humanizing instruments that needy kids in Utah County or around the world might need.
Soon Corinne Allen and co-founder Elizabeth Jeffrey were passing out leaflets and drawing dozens of kids to their monthly charity sessions at a Mormon church's gym, weaving caps and beading toys and sending them around the globe. On Saturday their efforts, now embodied in a nonprofit charity called Serving with Smiles, collected about 40 children to help their global peers and to celebrate the Christmas season by giving their time and talents. Some months it's 100 or more children.
"I feel really bad that some kids don't have blankets to sleep with," fifth-grader Morynn Smith said while stitching blue yarn tassels in a baby quilt decorated with tiny handprints. "I want to help all the kids in Africa."
And help kids in Africa they do, while also packaging hygiene kids for American servicemen in Afghanistan and bead-and-pipe-cleaner Christmas ornaments for patients at Primary Children's Hospital, which they will deliver when they go caroling.
Volunteer Jenny Amou-Berry returned from Africa last week after visiting her mother-in-law in Benin and delivering care packages there and in Togo. She described families living in mud huts with palm-thatched roofs or in rows of concrete rooms that resemble American storage units. Coal for their cooking fires is in short supply, she said.
"My husband told me how they live there, but I wasn't prepared," she said.
She delivered hygiene bags, school supplies, toy lizards that the Utah children had crafted from beads, and laminated picture books made from cut-out magazine photographs. The African children ran to her wherever she was and then dashed home with the gifts, she said.
American Fork Boy Scout Taggart Befus is among the volunteers who helps set up tables and chairs for the monthly craft sessions. He said he has been inspired by photos of children receiving their gifts.
"It made me feel good that we were helping kids living in such conditions," he said Saturday while looping yarn over pegs on a plastic, hand-held loom to create a stocking cap. "They looked really happy."
That sort of awareness is part of the group's mission, co-founder Allen said.
"We want the children to know there are people who live very far away from us who can use our help, and also people who live right here in American Fork," she said.
The group asks participating children to help raise supplies from their schoolmates' families, and to donate $5 at each monthly session. 

See the amazing Katy Walther, co-president of SWS Pleasant Grove in an article by the Deseret News

See this article about Shelley Elementary service club and their efforts to collect donations for Serving With Smiles!