by Pollyanna Eyler, Dramaturg
BYU’s Motto, “Enter to Learn Go Forth to Serve” is a standard I try to attain in all aspects of my study at BYU, including theatre. I am proud to support Young Company as they have already begun to showcase The Glorious Story Emporium in public schools through Young Company tours.
My first foray into making a conscious effort to serve came during elementary school. Our school offered free lunch, school supplies, dentistry and even a Santa Claus for those in need. We dutifully lined up with our empty lunch trays, smiling teeth, or desires to sit on Santa’s lap. I knew that my mom, as one of Santa’s seamstresses, was only making some homemade bathrobes and cloth toys this year, so I stayed after school to get a gift, perhaps a game that the whole family could share. I saw a doll in the pile and hoped Santa’s elves would remember that my little brothers had fed last year’s Christmas gift of a Tenderlove Babydoll to the dog…it was still missing an arm.
But no, I was given a scruffy Cookie Monster that had seen better days. Its fur was matted, and the stuffing was bulging in the wrong places, but I discovered on the walk home that it was also a puppet. And what would have been a defect (the ripped hole in his mouth) actually brought some giggles to my younger siblings as I showed them it could “eat” socks and other small objects.
Despite the laughter, I wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit – not until my mom, Santa’s helper, made an urgent announcement: the dad of one of our family’s friends (with six kids) had just lost his job and they had come to accept there would be no presents that Christmas.
This would never do! All of our family sprang into action scurrying around the house for what we could put together! My prized marble collection, won by sheer grit, was wrapped up in a pillowcase for the boy my age.
My baby doll crib was turned sideways and with 3 dollies from the dollar store and a home sewn blanket, that took care of three more gifts for their little girls. I don’t remember how it all worked out, but somehow each of their kids got a gift and my mom put together a food basket for the parents.
My favorite part was the “ding-dong ditch” with our whole family. We dropped off the goods, rang the doorbell, and raced around the corner to our “getaway car.” We made it home in time to hear the family we helped call to share the good news! Of course, the Old and the New Testaments tell us that Christ is the good news. Yet this example of service, that comes seemingly magically out of nowhere, no matter what current circumstances are, has stuck with me. Since then, there have been many Christmas Ding Dong Ditches with my parents and my siblings.
And now that I’m married, we’re continuing the tradition into the next generation, ding-dong ditching a family in need, while Santa and his elves magically deliver our own presents back at home under the Christmas Tree.
Service to others, instilled at a young age, such as that of the audience of The Glorious Story Emporium can last a lifetime. The Young Company’s cast is also a young group of youth dedicated to serving their community, performing shows for local public schools. Bonnie L. Oscarson spoke this month in General Conference for the LDS Church regarding service:
I have a tremendous love for and faith in those of you who are in your teen and young adult years. I have seen and felt of your desires to serve and make a difference in the world. I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities.
So it is with great pleasure that the dramaturgy display for The Glorious Story Emporium is also expressly designed with a service component. The lobby display is not just a place to entertain your brain and start the audience thinking about stories, it holds material for a service project to help local needy families.
In addition to announcing the arrival of our traveling vaudeville improvisation troupe, the donated scraps of fabric for the banner will be washed, pieced, and sewn into quilts to help warm the hearts of local kids in need. Every month, in the non-profit group, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace” (SHP), an all-volunteer staff makes about 40 beds for children without beds in Utah. (Local chapters reach across the United States as well.)
Beds are delivered, complete with quilts. A local Relief Society Humanitarian Aid organization [from Oak Hills 1st Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] meets weekly to piece together donated fabric scraps into quilts for various non-profits, one of which is Sleep in Heavenly Peace. You could say that each “piece” of fabric will bring “peace” to these kids through “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.” To learn how you can volunteer time or additional resources at Sleep in Heavenly Peace go to: http://www.shpbeds.org/