Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The King Benjamin Clothing Project: An Eco-Friendly LDS Missionary Recycling Effort

This past week I put up a post on Burning Missionary Clothing that elicited various reactions pro and con. Since that time I have heard from several commenters who say that they gave away their clothes to poorer missionaries. I posted a brief description of it on my own site in Bizarre LDS Burning Ritual. It got me to wondering if there was an organized effort to recycle missionary clothing.

So I did a little investigation and found a very deserving project in Argentina that deserves our support called the King Benjamin Clothing Project. I fell upon it as I was searching out information for a list of links for the Argentina Cordoba Mission. This effort is a truly great humanitarian clothing project to help outfit lower income missionaries in Argentina who cannot otherwise afford missionary clothing. Not only is it an unselfish act of charity it is also a great way to recycle those old missionary suits for elders and dresses and skirts for sisters. I was hoping that more people would see the merit of recycling their used missionary clothing and accesories and give them to missionaries called from the San Juan Argentina Chimbas Stake and Region.

This is a brief overview of the humanitarian clothing project call the King Benjamin Project.

The project was started in 2000 when a high council member Osvaldo Zanni was assigned by President Rubén Romeu, of the San Juan Argentina Chimbas Stake to alleviate the financial suffering. Speaking of the conditions among the Saints in San Juan, Brother Zanni stated: "We are addressing an urgent need which troubles their minds, and does not allow them to focus on their salvation nor on improving their job situation. We have many families that suffer from hunger, we have many brothers with very low paying jobs that we would like to help with clothing and food for their children. This assistance will grant them the peace of mind so that they might go out in search of a better job, or open the door so that they can learn a new trade that will allow them to live with greater dignity."

From 2000-2002 at the beginning of the project members of the stake learned how to plant gardens so they could have more nutritional food. With proceeds from the vegetables sold they purchased a flour mill and a food processor so they could can the vegetables. By February 2003 they added the missionary clothing project to help missionaries who could not afford clothes try to find gently used clothing from members in more developed countries.

In 2004 they were able to gather 18 suits for elders and twenty jumpers and nine dresses for sisters missionaries with a few white shirts, ties, and socks. In 2005 Mac Christensen of Mr. Mac's took notice of the project and donated $1056 dollars worth of new accessories which included sweaters, white shirts, and socks. Other donors gave 39 suits, 12 dresses, 14 jumpers, 26 used white shirts, and 80 pairs of pants.

In 2006 HaleStorm Entertainment promoted their movie Suits on the Loose by holding a huge clothing collection at all Mr. Mac's in Utah. HaleStorm donated a CD with their soundtrack to anyone that gave a suit. In 2007 they received over $5000 of new clothing and $1350 to ship the clothes. An eagle scout Nick Harrison in Rexburg, Idaho collected clothing including 40 suites from five Rexburg stakes for distribution to the nineteen elders from six provinces in Argentina.

In 2008 the project is still alive and thriving under the leadership of Thor Lindstrom from Kaysville, Utah (801-544-4732; elvikingo@fiber.net) who has been keeping up the King Benjamin Clothing Project website and coordinating the collection and distribution of the clothing.

The information on the site about the project states:

The King Benjamin Missionary Clothing Program collects, prepares and sends parcels of used and new clothing and distributes it at no cost to outgoing LDS missionaries from needy families in several provinces in Argentina. As of Jan. 2008, the program functions in San Juan, San Luis, La Rioja, Catamarca, Salta, Santiago del Estero, Santa Cruz, and Jujuy. In 2007, 20 shipments of clothing were either mailed to or hand delivered to Argentina; benefiting 19 missionaries in 6 provinces.

We seek to partner with ex-missionaries returning to Argentina, or family members traveling to pick up a missionary, who are willing to take with them a suitcase of clothing for the program.
If you really want to do something worthwhile with your worn missionary clothing instead of burning those missionary clothes send them over to Brother Thor Lindstrom at 364 North 700 East, Kaysville, Utah 84037-1651. He will make sure that worthy elders and sisters will make use of your clothing no matter what condition new or old.

I am trying to be socially responsible by raising your consciousness to assist in the missionary effort in a way that will place a minimal strain on your budget. If you feel generous and have twenty or fifty bucks I am sure he could use your donation to buy some new stuff. Remember that small streams of money and clothes can add up exponentially when you have dozens of people contributing.

I read a story of how President Monson gave about twenty suits off his back to members in the German Democratic Republic. You can literally take the suit or dress off your own back and send your suits, ties, white shirts, pants, socks, dresses, jumpers, blouses, and skirts over to Argentina for distribution to elders and sisters in need. Be sure to thank Mac Christensen when you see him for his past contributions to this project and encourage him to continue giving. May the Lord bless you for your generous donations to your less fortunate brothers and sisters in South America.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did something similar 20 yeasr ago for native missionaries in mexico for my eagle project. It was coordinated with a professor at Byu who hauled over 200 white shirts nearly a hundred ties and about 40 pairs of pants, That were washed, cleaned and repaired.