Our Season of Service

Inspired by some friends of our family, the Marshall family has decided to try a new way of exchanging Christmas gifts in 2012. We hope it will become a wonderful family tradition.
For years, the four Marshall children, their spouses, and their parents exchanged gifts every Christmas, but in 2011, we decided the gift-giving tradition may need a change since we are all so blessed and in need of truly nothing. We decided we needed to find a better way to celebrate the true Christmas spirit.

We suggested that we each perform acts of service in the name of the sibling whose name we were assigned at random. Our service will be kept a secret until Christmas Day.

Our friend drew the names for us and notified each of us privately of the person who should inspire our service. On Christmas Day, we reveal who we were given and how we chose to serve by posting our stories on The Marshall Family Season of Service blog.

We hope this tradition will help us focus on serving our communities and each other during the annual celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

We invite you to come back to our blog on Christmas morning to read this year's service.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dear Gina & Haylee,

We actually chose something crafty this year for our service! Perfect to honor our more Pinterest-minded sisters. ;) As a family, we have made 8 fleece blankets to donate to Operation Smile. We chose Operation Smile for a couple of reasons. First, of course our families have quite a connection with teeth and both Anthony and Scott have been on cleft teams. And second, one of Callan's friends and classmates at Classical Conversations was adopted from China and has a repaired cleft. Since all the children are familiar with Abby, and it's a very apparent difference in her, I thought they would be able to appreciate how much good this organization does for children in other countries. we wanted everyone to be a part of this project so we could remember how blessed we are! Merry Christmas! We love you!

Dear Wendy

This year I wanted to perform a service for the local police department. Since they have to work all through Christmas and in light of the recent challenges they have faced I wanted to do something kind for them. On Christmas Eve afternoon we took to our local police department a large of box of Christmas cookies, a bag of oranges, and two big bags of homemade caramels, as well as some thank you cards from the kids. They seemed appreciative and I hope it brightened their holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Anthony

This year I wanted my kids to help with the service project. The kids spent a couple weeks doing extra chores around the house so they could earn some money. Even Caroline earned a dollar! We went on a special shopping trip where the kids then spent their money on different canned food items they chose. (I matched their efforts) and we donated a large bag of canned food, and peanut butter to our local food bank through a church service project.

Merry Christmas!
Dear Owen,
  When I drew your name I tried to think of what I could do to honor your name this year. I thought of how you are constantly engaged in missionary work and helping others. Since you served your mission in a very poor part of the world I know you have a special place in your heart for those people who need to be able to prepare themselves to have a better life. What better way to do this than with better education, so I decided to donate to the Perpetual Education Fund of the church for you. Through the actions I see you per form I know you care about other people and how you can help them. I am very proud of you and the man you have become. Keep up the good work.
Love, Daddy

Dear Heidi,

When I found out I got to do service in your name this year, I knew I wanted to do something crafty since we both share a love for that. 

A few years ago I heard about an organization named Teeny Tears.  Teeny Tears is a service organization that donates tiny diapers to hospitals, birth centers and other bereavement support groups. The diapers are given to families who have suffered the loss of a preemie or micropreemie child through stillbirth or NICU loss. They rely on volunteers to help make the diapers. With the help of various group and individual volunteers, including church groups and Eagle Scout projects, in just the three years since the project has launched, over 110,300 diapers have been made and donated to over 900 hospitals internationally. 

According to their website,

Approximately 26,000 children are stillborn in the United States every year, about 1 in 160 births. A significant number of these angels are preemie or micropreemie infants.  Many of these angels are far too small for even the very smallest commercial diapers. 

And these diapers are truly tiny.

The small diapers are intended for use on babies around 16-24 weeks. They are about 2 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide. The "large" diapers fit babies from 24-32 weeks. They are about 3 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall. It is pretty heartbreaking to imagine a baby that small but I know these diapers may at least lighten the load of grief for the families who face this outcome.

Each family receives a matching set of diapers so they can have one as a keepsake. When I started, I had a goal of at least 100 diapers and I hit that and just kept going. Altogether I made 128 diapers, making 64 sets.


Love Kylie

Dear Family,

Up until now, the kids haven't been included in the Service exchange.  I have helped my parents with their service projects, but this year I wanted to do my own.  I consulted with my mom and dad and since I learned how to sew on a sewing machine last year, I wanted to use my new found skills to bless someone else's life. 

This year I've really enjoyed reading nonfiction books.  Some that I've read are about people who have endured horrific trials in their lives.  I wanted to be able to help someone in need.

My mom told me about an organization called ConKerr Cancer: A case for smiles.  This organization provides cheery pillowcases to children with lifechanging illnesses while they stay in the hospital.

From their website:

“A Case for Smiles – Helping children feel special while battling life changing illnesses.”

Our mission is heartfelt to provide smiles to children with life changing illnesses and to make them feel special.
Our work is simple to provide children with cheery pillowcases to brighten their hospital stay and a chance to learn to sew while breaking up the boredom of a hospital stay.
Our impact is immediate many organizations are focused on saving tomorrow’s children through research. Our focus is on helping children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses today.
Our organization is driven by volunteers literally thousands of people are making pillowcases across the country and around the world. They are led by an all-volunteer organization of regional chapters with regional coordinators supported and served through volunteers who make up our home office organization.
Our fuel is love ConKerr is fueled by a simple act of love – making a pillowcase for a sick child struggling with cancer or another life changing illness. Everything else is details.

My mom and I went to the fabric store and I got to pick out enough fabric to make 12 pillowcases.  Over the course of this year, I've completed all 12 and I can't wait to deliver them so that children can benefit from them.

To Terry!

Dear Terry,
It has been a busy and eventful year.  I had the opportunity to provide lots of different service in the church and in the community.  I had planned on participating in the Winston-Salem Missions of Mercy clinic.  It is a clinic that provides free dental care to underserved populations.  It was scheduled for a weekend in November this year and I was unable to attend as I had planned.  Around that time Anthony began to have all of his medical events and hospital stays.  I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to provide a service for Anthony and his patients in your name.  Anthony has had to reschedule a number of patients to take care of his health.  Most Orthodontic patients are very flexible and willing to accommodate.  However, removing braces is one of those appointments that patients are excited to do and don’t want to wait any longer once the Orthodontist says they are ready.  It is also an appointment that takes more time and involvement from the Orthodontist so it is harder to reschedule and fit it in to already full January schedules.

I had Anthony’s staff offer my debonding services to nine patients so we could get their braces off before Christmas.  I went in on a Friday morning and was able to debond seven of them.  (One patient was in Mexico for a Quinceanera and the other had exams at school that they couldn’t get out of.)  The other seven patients and Dr. Basil were all extremely grateful for their new smiles and early Christmas presents that will last a lifetime.  (They will last a lifetime if they wear their retainers.)  It wasn’t exactly how I planned to serve, but I did get to use my dental license to help a fellow family member in need. 

Also, a few weeks earlier, I was able to help out another dentist friend who had broken his hand and needed help finding a locum tenams for 8 weeks while his hand healed.  I helped him by contacting 65 dentists that I know to see who could help.  It was through my help that he ended up finding someone to fill in for him.
Thank you for a great 2014!
Scott F. Tucker

2014 Scott

Dear Scott
 As I have drawn your name for this years service project, I have found a project that I think you will be happy to have done in your honor. A few months ago I happened upon a great website set up to help family search get information entered into the data base. It is an easy way to see family history work move forward, helping those who need information on their loved ones. The way this site works, is that people go out and take photos of headstones submit them to Billiongraves.com, then others transcribe the information from the photos. I have fallen in love with this work and plan to continue doing as much as I can in the coming year. As of this morning I have submitted 4,003 headstones.
 So Merry Christmas Bishop Scott Tucker. The work goes forward in your honor.
Linda aka Grammy

Merry Christmas, Mother!

Dear Mother,

This year when I drew your name to do service in your honor, I tried to think of something you love and like to spend time doing.  I am so thankful that you are my mother.  I love you so much.  So, here is what I did and I still believe that it will touch lives of those you love and the lives of many you don't know. 

This year, I did many acts of service.  I will highlight 4 that pertain to how I often think of you.

As a backstory, several years ago our friend Eric Bednar was telling us that his father, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had recommended that he read the book entitled Bonds that Make Us Free.  Scott and I read it and loved it.  It was so applicable to our lives and our interactions with others that we began recommending it to all of our friends.  Everyone could benefit from reading this book multiple times in their lives and if they take it to heart and look within themselves, it would improve every relationship in their lives including but not limited to spousal relationship, relations with your children, parents, friends, and even coworkers and acquaintances.  I loved reading it so much and it has helped me become a better person so much that I personally have read it several times in the last 10 years.  It's just that great.  Now fast forward to the end of April when Scott was called to the Bishop of our ward.  One of the first bits of advice that our Stake President gave him was to read the book, Bonds that Make Us Free.   It had been a while since Scott had read it and he really wanted to do everything that he could to help himself in helping others during his service as Bishop.  So, he really wanted to read this book again.  The problem was that he is so incredibly busy now between being a father, working, and Bishop that there was really no time for him to sit down with a book to read it.  He has a 20 minute commute to work every day; 40 minutes round trip.  I got the bright idea to begin reading the book for him out loud and recording it on my phone, one chapter at a time.  I began in September reading chapters and I finished the last chapter, chapter 14 last week.  It has been such a great thing for him to be able to listen to the book on his commute.  But, it has also been a great review for me in my own life.  And the giving doesn't stop there!  I've had the opportunity to help friends who are struggling with advice from this book that has saved their marriage.  And even furthermore, Scott as a Bishop has been able to recommend this book to many members of our ward to better themselves and their relationships.  This service has helped many families already and will continue to help families as they teach their own children.  This ended up being about a 10 hour project.  The audio files are now in an emailable format and anyone who wants to listen can just listen right from their phone.  I'm happy to share if anyone is interested.  ;)

The second project I did this year was for members of the Tucker and Marshall families.  Haylee said it well on Facebook with this message, "It makes me sad to hear people complain about how they hate Christmas because it is so commercialized. It's true that it is, but it doesn't have to be in your home and your heart! Focus on the Savior, His mission and life, focus on emulating him through love and service and Christmas will quickly become meaningful and joyful!"  Last year, I bought an ornament kit called the 25 Days of Christ.  It was unfinished wooden ornaments that I painted and it also came with New Testament scriptures and Bible videos to accompany each day's ornament.  It was a wonderful tradition because it focused us the entire month of December on the life of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  It was so wonderful to study and be reminded of His wonder.  So, this year, I decided that I wanted to share that gift and tradition with my siblings that don't already have the ornament kit for their children.  I painted ornament kits for 6 families including Craig and my sister in laws Kristen and Becca.  I hope this has become a beloved tradition in their homes and for their children to be able to focus on our Savior.  This was a 10 hour project as well.

The third project was a project made possible through generous donations, lots of hard work, many hours, and our Colfax Elementary PTA program.  It is a project called One School, One Book.  Literacy is a very important thing to me.  I believe that if a child can learn to read and learn to love to read, their options are limitless.  If you can read, you can do anything!  I also knew since you retired you have looked for service opportunities through the school and ultimately have been able to help at Colfax helping children with reading comprehension.  Through One School, One Book, my friend Ashley and I worked very hard and were able to put the book Wonder in the hands of over 450 families in the Colfax community.  We led them through reading the book over the course of a month, creating a culture of literacy in every home.  It was truly a Wonderful experience!

The last project we did as a family.  We debated over doing the 12 days of Christmas for a couple of families who have had a hard time or doing Secret Santa for a family in need, but we settled on spreading Christmas cheer to be able to reach more families.  We were able to secretly deliver Christmas music CDs to 12 families with a tag that read, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear".  I know that these families were touched and it felt so good to know that they were thought of this beautiful season.

Merry Christmas, Mother!  I hope your Christmas has been filled with joy!  I love you!

Dear Craig

This year for my service to you I decided to donate blood. I know that you do not appreciate needles so I took one for the team. I timed my donations so that I could donate the maximum amount of times per year and I donated doubles (which only takes red cells instead of whole blood) so that it counted twice.  My donation is equivalent to a gallon of blood this year!!!  In the spirit of service Haylee even jumped on board and donated in December with me for her first time and possibly last time!!! GO HAYLEE

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.