SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Since 1985, humanitarian projects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been mounted in over 160 countries, with aid exceeding $900 million and over 51,000 tons of food, 7,600 tons of medical equipment, 69,000 tons of surplus clothing and 5,700 tons of educational supplies.
Despite its broad global focus, Humanitarian Services of the Church recently responded to an unusual request, a request to build hope in the life of a seriously ill 17-year-old young man from Roseville, Michigan.
Andy Noble, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and suffers from cerebral palsy and terminal lung disease and has frequent seizures, has collected law enforcement and public safety patches from all over the world. The collection has become a visual representation of Andy’s personal respect and concern for public servants.
Larry Hendricks, an Oakland, California, firefighter and chairman of the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, met Noble in 2003 and learned that Noble’s 15,000 patches sat in plastic bags and containers. “Wouldn’t it be a shame if he never saw his whole life’s work?” Hendricks asked.
For years Hendricks pursued a variety of options that might allow Noble’s collection to be organized, but the sheer numbers of patches made the task seem impossible. The fireman, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, finally suggested to Noble and his mother, who are not Mormon, that sewing a quilt may be the means to assemble the thousands of pieces in a practical manner. With their permission Hendricks contacted the Salt Lake City Humanitarian Center for suggestions.
The Humanitarian Center, the hub of Church Humanitarian Services, was established to help the Church prepare emergency relief supplies for shipment worldwide, train people desiring to develop employable skills leading to self-reliance, and offer service opportunities.
“The patches project is unlike anything we have done before,” explained John Yancey, assistant manager of the Humanitarian Center. “We thought it was a worthwhile thing to help this young man, and we have the capacity to do it.”
Signe Jacobsen, a full-time missionary for the Church serving in the sewing room at the Humanitarian Center, assumed responsibility for the project. The veteran seamstress and quilt maker quickly determined that the considerable number of patches — now at 17,000, with more still being sent from people all over the world — wouldn’t work as a quilt top.
“Even a single quilt would be much too heavy covered with 50 or 60 patches, and we had thousands more,” Jacobsen admitted.
Instead, Jacobsen devised a system of banners, each 28 inches wide and nearly 8 feet high. “This design allows us to hang the banners back to back, permitting spectators to view the approximately 300 completed banners,” said Jacobsen.
Jacobsen’s design includes six blue specialized banners, including one honoring the agencies involved in the 11 September 2001 New York City tragedy. In addition, all the police badges will be mounted on black fabric, while the fireman badges will be sewn on red fabric. In each category, badges are placed according to color, shape and size. Once the layout is finalized, each patch is machine-sewn in a carefully measured spot.
The banners will be completed by the end of September 2007 and are expected to go on an exhibition tour throughout the United States. Jacobsen hopes that the banners will remind the public of the important role law enforcement and emergency personnel play in keeping communities comfortable and safe.
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.