Saturday in the Utah Valley University ballroom, Miss Utah 2009, Whitney Merrifield, and the 54 contestants for Miss Utah 2010 gathered with their mothers and ‘Little Miss’ girls to make quilts, hand puppets and other donations for Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City as well as LDS Humanitarian Aid.
Merrifield, a Brigham Young University broadcast journalism student, is no stranger to service projects, especially since her involvement in pageants that began with the Miss Pleasant Grove competition in 2007.
“This is what I do everyday — just different types of service,” Merrifield said. “Whether it’s one-on-one time with somebody or … big group projects.”
The focus of Saturday’s service project was young children, but Merrifield usually works with teenagers through a non-profit organization called Challenge Day, which she adopted as part of her platform. The program aims to “create unity and break stereotypes” in junior highs and high schools, Merrifield said. Although not based on LDS doctrines, Merrifield said “the leading theme of [Challenge Day] is that we are all children of God.”
Of the 54 contestants running for Miss Utah 2010, the majority are LDS, according to Renita Revill, executive director of the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant. Because the Church puts emphasis on some of the same things the Miss Utah and Miss America pageants do — such as service, cultivation of talents, physical wellness and education — Revill is not surprised at how well the young women do in the competitions.