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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Dear Aunt Gina,

I have noticed that you serve in lots of ways all the time. So this year, I decided to do the same; whenever an opportunity came up, I tried to help. So my service included trying to help Elena feel more welcome and included at church. Francis and I have made sure to sit by her and invite her to do things with us outside of church. We even planned a special Harry Potter baking day because we knew she especially loves Harry Potter. She hasn't come yet, but she will! Who could resist butterscotch beer forever?! :) I also helped my mom with her project of collecting cans. I helped her collect them off the road, and all the other sources, and helped make sure they made it to the barn. One last project I participated in was helping Callie with her service to the shelter. I took 3 tags and we went shopping for dogs. These were just a few specific ways I served, but there were lots more little ways I tried to help others. It makes me feel good to serve. Thank you for being such a good example of constant service! Love, Callan

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dear Heidi, We've talked about teeth quite a bit in the past, so I decided to focus my service this year on keeping some teenagers' teeth safely in their mouths. I made an entire high school basketball team's mouth guards free of charge. Even made them the school colors and put the team mantra inside...since I know how crafty you are, I thought you'd appreciate that extra bit of bling. Merry Christmas! Love, Anthony

Every Can Counts

Dear Daddy, This year, a service opportunity kind of found me. A lady, Amy, in Madison/Mayodan walks the streets every day collecting cans to recycle for money. She uses the money from the cans to help offset the cost of gas, etc as she takes care of her brother while he is battling cancer. She also walks every day because she can, and to keep her body going. Her husband ran her over with his truck, and she has just now begun to be able to walk again. Needless to say, her life hasn't been easy and I found her devotion to helping her brother inspiring. She won't accept any other help except cans, so as a family we began picking them up on the side of the road and anywhere else we saw cans. I enlisted the help of friends and received a whole van full of bagged cans! And mother has been picking them up at Countryside Manor and I have been delivering them to the barn so Karen can take them to Amy. I hope our cans have helped her in some small way. This year I have thought much about the Christmas Spirit and how to keep it all year long. Today it came to me that in order to keep that Spirit, we must be striving to know and be like the Savior every day, not just this Holiday season. Part of being like Him is serving as He did. He loved us and spent His days helping and teaching others. Focusing on service, is such a wonderful way to grow closer to Him and be like Him...and keep that Christmas joy throughout the year.
Merry Christmas! Love, Wendy
sorry but we do not remember who we were doing service in honor of but we did try to get some service done.
 We shopped for two children for the group called Samaritan purse. They collect gifts for operation Christmas child. I also have a few more of the little dresses for Africa. We also adopted two of the residents at Countrside Manor assisted living to bring them a gift for Christmas. We also participated in our ward angel tree. I was also able to help our ward provide service to the next step thrift store that helps abused women with help they need to have a safer way of life. 
 We are both very thankful for the richly blessed life we enjoy. We want to reach out and help others have a happier more joyful life.
Love Mother & Daddy

The homeless man in front of our library (From: Craig To:Scott)

Dear Scott,

There is a poor homeless man who lives in front of our library here in Herndon. We have seen him outside all year round as we have come and gone from activities. Sometimes he sleeps in the covered parking garage, some time he is on a bench, sometimes out front under the overhang. He has never asked for money or food. He just sits and sometimes talks to himself and the wall. Clearly this poor man is truly homeless and truly in need of help.

As a family we talked about what this man's life must be like living on the street with no possessions or family.  We talked about the kind of things that a man like this might need to help him survive the cold winter days and nights. We talked about things that might keep him healthy and make him happier. We talked about why this man might choose to live the way that he does. The kids asked a lot of questions about this man, and I think learned a lot.

After we talked about what he might need we put a bag together containing items that might makes this man's life better. Then as a family we drove to the library to deliver our Christmas gift. We found the man sitting behind a wall under a pile of grocery bags to stay warm. I had never spoken to him before, and realized for the first time that the was probably only a few years younger than me. I wished him a merry Christmas and handed him the gift. That was all I said and he was happy to dive into his present.

Service can remind us that life is not easy or fair. I am grateful for the Savior who blesses us and then encourages us to go and share our blessing with those in need. Many of life's most important lessons would go unlearned without service. I thank God today for sending us his Son to help us learn those lessons and enrich our lives as well as others.

Merry Christmas!

For Wendy

Dear Wendy This year I decided to avoid the Christmas crunch I always feel and work on one service project per month. I made a list of projects that I felt acceptable and got to work. Some were small, really small--like writing a note to a friend who was having a hard time. One month I cleaned a friends house who was having a difficult pregnancy. A couple months we fed missionaries...who I wouldn't have chosen to spend time with....seriously, that was a major service. One month I took a meal to a recent widow with a grocery gift card. Some were bigger, some were simple, one month I needed some service. I felt the exercise helped me focus all year on thinking of others and enjoyed the experience. I am thankful for the Saviors example and love. Merry Christmas Love, Heidi

Pictures for Craig from haylee

haylees ipad has problems

Dear Craig,

I have to apologize to you to start because I usually try to serve in some way that is significant my service honoree. But this year, for some reason, I had it in mind that I was serving in honor of Gina, so forgive me if this seems off the mark for you and your interests/talents. This year, I volunteered as part of Birthday Cakes 4 Free, which provides free cakes to financially and socially disadvantaged kids and seniors. My goal was to do four cakes, but they have an abundance of volunteers now, so I only had the opportunity to make and deliver two. But then I had a friend ask me to bring cupcakes for the Young Women's birthdays and I jumped at the chance to at least make one more "cake" to dontate.


p.s. Pictures are in another post.

Dear Kylie, From Uncle Owen

       This year for my service I decided to do random acts of service as often as possible.  These service opportunities included things like paying for popcorn in a redbox movie, donating blood, helping strangers change tires on the side of the road,  giving money to those in need,  blowing leaves  on our wards day of service, helping many families move into and out of our ward.......and the list could go on and on.

One service I would like to highlight was changing the tire of a single mom on the side of the highway.  I passed by her vehicle while driving to work one afternoon and notice she was standing outside her van obviously distraught.  I decided to turn around and see if i could help.  She was traveling from Tennessee to another part of our state in a rental car and there was no one who could help her and her 2 year old daughter get off the side of the road for several hours.  I was able to quickly change the tire and get her to a location where she could safely wait for a new vehicle from her rental company.

The reason I chose this service for you is because of your infectious joy you spread to others.  Thank you for your great example to me and my family.

(Sorry about no pictures but due to the random nature of most of my acts there was no time for pictures)

To Uncle Anthony, Love Kylie

Dear Uncle Anthony,

I love being around you and your smile is so contagious!  You love helping everyone around you.  I love you!

This year, I spent a lot of my spare time knitting hats to donate to a hospital for newborn babies.  I made 100 of them!  One of them I was even able to donate in person to my newest cousin, Grayson Thomas Tucker!  He was so cute in it and I loved being able to donate my time and talent.

Merry Christmas, Uncle Anthony!


Dear Callan, Love Aunt Gina

Dear Callan,

What a special young woman you are!  I love you!  So many things came to mind that I could do that would exemplify your qualities in the service that I chose to perform.  Ultimately, I chose to focus on the fact that one of your main jobs/focuses at this time in your life is being a student and learning.  Learning is such an important part of this life!  It's something that we never stop doing.  We are all learning and growing each day. 

But for my service in your behalf, I decided that I would help students who are seeking an education.  I did this in two ways:
  1. First, I have been volunteering 2-3 days a week at our local elementary school, working with 3rd graders one on one.  Some days, I help students who haven't scored well on a certain test that week and come from families that may not be able to provide enough structure and support to child.  I sit down with them and go over each question they missed and help them understand the information.  Other days, I work one on one with a little boy who is struggling to learn to read.  It's been amazing to see how the light bulbs go off when they are able to make a connection to learning.  Learning is fun, but sometimes when it feels too overwhelming, it's helpful to have someone on your side helping you in bite-sized steps!  I've loved being able to help these students.
  2.  Second, I have been a speaking partner for a student in the BYU-Idaho Pathways online degree program.  She lives in Mexico and is learning to speak English.  We Skype with each other every week and talk about what is going on in our lives to give her an opportunity to practice speaking English with an actual English speaker.  It has been a wonderful experience! 

Callan, I love you and I hope you will continue realizing what a gift your education is to you not only now, but for the rest of your life!

Merry Christmas!
Aunt Gina

To Linda From Scott

When I think of you the first thought that always comes to my mind is that you constantly speak up for and in behalf of the little guy.  You seem to constantly be doing things for those in need.  Every month 2,000 people worldwide are killed or maimed by landmines.  Over 1000,000 individuals worldwide are missing a hand either through landmines, accidents, or congenital absence.  Many of them are in poor and developing countries without resources to provide a prosthetic limb.  In March of this year I helped to fund and assemble LN-4 prosthetic hands for these poor and deserving recipients around the world.  We started with a kit of over 30 unmarked plastic and metal pieces per hand.  We had to work as a team with one hand covered so we could not use any of the digits on it.  This allowed us to experience on a very small scale and for a very short time some of the frustrations of only having one hand.  These prosthetic hands are then delivered and fitted at no cost to deserving recipients in over 70 countries around the world.  They are able to use these for writing, working, driving, and otherwise improving the quality of their lives.  It restores the ability to grasp and clasp to tens of thousands.   I realized I was using my hands to create something for someone who does not have a hand.  This helped to magnify my attention, compassion and care.  It helped me to count my many blessings.  It humbled me to all the many wonderful gifts I have been given.  Please think of this gift for the next little while each time you use your own hands in daily living or in the service of your fellow man. 
Scott F. Tucker