Standing in line for long periods of time to meet a favorite celebrity is not unusual, but to stand in line for upwards of an hour to participate in a large group community service project is not as common.
During the holiday season, hundreds of people filled the gymnasium at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Redmond to do both.
Whitney Call, Matt Meese and Jeremy Warner — members of the sketch-comedy group Studio C on YouTube — recently visited the church to assemble hygiene and household cleaning kits for refugee families in the greater Seattle area.
According to a Puget Sound LDS press release, the service project was organized by Heather Darrington of the church’s Duvall location, who followed the plight of refugee crisis and had previously led a coat drive for the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
She said in the release that when she learned that Studio C had a surplus budget and wanted to participate in a Seattle-area service project, she knew exactly where to turn. In two days, members of the church mobilized and partnered with IRC, a refugee resettlement agency that helps refugee families rebuild their lives.
“I had hoped our donation drive would be this big,” Darrington said in the release.
Nicky Smith, executive director of IRC in Seattle, said there were close to 500 people in attendance, with youth ranging from “little ones” to high school aged, as well as their parents. She said the outpouring of young people participating was remarkable.
Janelle Callens, a Redmond resident who also attended the event, agreed.
“It was fantastic,” she said, adding that publicizing for the event was minimal and limited to a post on social media the day before the event.
THE CHANCE TO SERVE
Callens said people stood in line for about an hour to meet, get pictures with and autographs from the Studio C cast members. After the trio took a break for dinner, people still stayed to help put together the kits, which included full-size personal hygiene products and home goods including laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, dish soap and house telephones. More than 200 kits were assembled.
Callens said people were happy to donate and thrilled to stay and help and be part of something bigger than themselves and worthwhile.
“It was just really cool,” she said about the event.
Sydney Kap, a 15-year-old from Redmond, attended the event and while she was excited to meet the Studio C cast members, she said she enjoyed the service part as well.
“It was amazing to be part of the event,” she said.
Kap attended with her older brother and younger sister who are 17 and 12, respectively. She said most of the people there were teens.
“These young people know how to organize, and they come with a can-do attitude,” said Michael Della Santa of IRC. “I called for volunteers to help load donations. Before I knew it, there was a train of people standing at the ready to help.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF HELPING OTHERS
For Kap, serving is important because it has taught her about what life is like for refugees entering the country. She said it makes her happy to serve and let people in need feel loved — even from people they do not know.
Redmond resident Sophie Williams also attended the event for the chance to meet members of Studio C. When she learned about the service component, she said she became more excited. The 12-year-old said serving is important to her because she has always enjoyed helping others. Williams said serving can be something as simple as helping someone pick up their books if they drop them at school and everyone should learn to serve others.
“(It is) just a good thing to do,” she said.
A TEAM EFFORT
Smith said everyone worked as a team, which made a difference.
“You can’t put a dollar amount on that type of energy and support,” she said.
Smith described the event as super organized and they were able to complete all their work in one evening. She said IRC is really grateful to the families who participated in the kit-making event. She said it takes a community to help refugees resettle and through this event, that is what they got.
“This is the largest donation event I’ve seen,” Smith said in the release. “It’s spectacular to see young people involved and aware of real needs in our community.”
Last year, IRC in Seattle assisted more than 600 refugees that were permitted to travel to the United States with just one suitcase each, the release states. Additional opportunities for the community to help refugees include cash donations, donation drives and volunteering to physically set up homes.
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/h57htxs.
The kit-making event was just one of a number of service projects Studio C cast members participated around the country. The group recently posted a video of its members’ various service projects, including in Redmond, on its YouTube channel.
According to the release, Meese from Studio C addressed the volunteers at the Redmond event.
“We hope that doing nice things for other people here will encourage others to do nice things,” he said.