News Story

“Hands of Love” Work Together for Women’s Shelters

Marking the 15th anniversary of “Hands of Love” on September 24, 2016, was reason enough to celebrate, but for more than 200 women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at the Winnipeg Manitoba Stake Centre, it was another opportunity to bless the lives of families in 14 women’s shelters across the province.

Planning began in February, with many women putting in over 700 hours of service making knitted blankets, slippers and other items before the actual day of the annual event.


When asked during an interview on a local radio station why service was so important to Mormons, Michelle Hadfield (co-chair of “Hands of Love”) answered, “Because we have been given much, we use our hands to help those in need. The Saviour spent His entire short life serving others. We try to emulate His life as much as we can by serving others like He did, and this is a perfect opportunity to do that. When you lose your life in the service of others, you don’t have time to worry about ‘poor me,’ because you are busy helping everybody else.”

Marcie Wood, community co-ordinator at Willow Place Inc., an emergency shelter in Winnipeg, said, “Many women and children in our community go without basic necessities due to a variety of factors, which include poverty and domestic violence. While all of us are susceptible to hard times, women and children are at the most risk, and they are the ones we serve.”

“With the generous support of people like you [members of the Church], we are able to provide the opportunity to access these items to the families and individuals we serve, while we assist them with working toward a brighter future,” Wood added.

The items provided through the “Hands of Love” event varied in purpose. “It wasn’t just essentials,” explained Diana Robbins, a member of the Church, “but things to make children play and smile and to enjoy happy thoughts — pretty things and journals for the mommies, too. We could feel the Spirit of our Saviour as we worked together with love in our hearts.”

Items made this year included tutus, ribbon wands, bean-filled toy bunnies, courage capes, headbands, cards, pillowcases, receiving blankets, fleece blankets, baby quilts, knitted blankets, slippers, washcloths, women’s hygiene kits, baby hygiene kits and kids’ craft kits. Donations from 40 local businesses and many women in the Church covered the cost of most supplies.

A visitor at the service activity shared, “You never know the influence you are making in the lives of the children in the shelter, because I myself used to live in a shelter. The [bean-filled] bunny is my favourite toy.”

Val Englot, committee chair, said it was “a sight to behold” watching the 200 women and children working as individuals or in groups, making fun things as well as needed items “to try to make a bit of a difference in a child’s or mother’s life, to help them cope when they are in crisis and to know they are precious in the Lord’s eyes.”

Helping at Miriam Del Rio’s table were women from Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. “If we consider all women in the room, they were from all continents. Incredible — the world together in one place, for one righteous cause,” Del Rio said.

Cecilia Dimalaluan, Winnipeg Stake Relief Society president, praised the organizing committee’s devotion and commitment as an example of true discipleship. “Sisters who attended the event had a common feeling,” she said, “a feeling of unity, of sisterhood, love of the Saviour and of fellowmen. The Saviour said, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren (or sisters), ye have done it unto me’ (Matthew 25:40).”

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