Tag Archives: BYU

‘I am still worth the full 20 dollars’

By Jacki Wood, “That they might have joy” column for the Nodaway News Leader


Our family recently returned from a two-week summer road trip to California to see family, visit the beach, Disneyland, our favorite restaurants and some new things, too.

We love to road trip and I could write for days about the adventures we had. But for this column, I’d like to share something we’ve started doing recently – packing comfort kits to pass out if we come across someone in need along our way.

It didn’t take long to hand out the first one on this trip. We were approached by a man at a gas station in New Mexico. He was asking for money but we offered him the Ziploc of food, water and essentials. He quickly opened the bag, grabbed the crackers and thanked us as he began devouring the food.

The exchange was a bit bizarre but he was obviously hungry and we were happy to help.

This topic – helping the homeless who stand outside of a business or along a highway off ramp – seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject.

Some people say they’re just trying to take advantage of us, that they beg all day long and then go home to a comfortable life.

In my very limited experience, I do not believe that to be true in most cases. I’m not naive enough to think that it doesn’t happen. But I feel there are many people who could use a little help.

I shared a story last Thanksgiving on my Facebook page that reaffirmed my stance for helping those in need. Here’s a portion of what I wrote then:


His hands were rough and cold, surprisingly cold, on an unusually warm November day.

I had stopped in Cameron to fill up with gas on the way to my mom’s for Thanksgiving and he was standing on the corner shivering.

“I’m Jacki,” I said, as I stuck my hand out to shake his.

“Dennis,” he said.

He seemed shy, hesitant, ashamed.

“Where are you headed?” I asked, reading his cardboard sign.


Dennis was a veteran. He had served during the 1970s and had been in Omaha for a medical procedure. Now he was trying to “get someplace warm,” he said.

Family? No. He had no family.

We spoke a little more and I learned he had a dry sense of humor, kind of like my dad’s. He seemed to warm up to me the longer we talked.

We had made some comfort kits as a family to keep in the car for instances just like this. The bag had ripped recently so I had taken it out to replace it but kept forgetting to put it back in the car.

When I saw Dennis, I thought it was a missed opportunity and felt I needed to talk with him.

I only spent a few moments with him. I don’t know his whole story. I don’t know what specific circumstances and choices led to him being there in that situation. But I do know that he is my brother and I wanted to help him.

I gave him a little money (something I normally do not do), which he humbly thanked me for with tears in his eyes, and I wished him good luck.


We don’t know the circumstances that lead people to stand on a corner asking for help. We haven’t walked in their shoes. But if we could just really see them for who they are, how would we act?

In a speech given at BYU in 2015, Sondra D. Heaston said: “What if we could really see into each other’s hearts? Would we understand each other better? By feeling what others feel, seeing what others see and hearing what others hear…would we treat them with more patience, more kindness and more tolerance?”

I recently read a story of a woman who had endured years of trial and sorrow. She said: “I have come to realize that I am like an old $20 bill — crumpled, torn, dirty, abused and scarred. But I am still a $20 bill. I am worth something. Even though I may not look like much and even though I have been battered and used, I am still worth the full 20 dollars.”


Comfort kits are easy and relatively inexpensive to make. You can find many ideas online. Ours include a pair of socks, toothbrush and paste, comb, wet wipes, water, gum and a few snack items like granola bars, crackers and cheese, tuna salad and fun fruits. There are many other essentials you could pack as well as a list of local resources and gift cards.

One site I like is the Portland Rescue Mission (portlandrescuemission.org/get-involved/learn). It shares several ways to provide practical help to the homeless.


The second comfort kit we handed out on our road trip was in Kansas on our way home. As I rolled down the window and asked the man if he’d like the bag, his eyes lit up with joy and gratitude.

I will never forget those eyes. I saw a glimpse into his heart.

Not that I knew his circumstances. That didn’t matter.

By serving him in that very small capacity, even though he may have been crumpled, torn, dirty and scarred, we saw that he was indeed still worth the full 20 dollars.


Surround yourself with good people

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column, Nodaway News Leader


The first time I met Alex was about a week before classes were to begin my freshman year at BYU.

I knocked on the door of what would be my home for that first year of college, not knowing if anyone had moved in yet.

She opened the door holding a blow dryer and a brush, barefoot but dressed fashionably conservative, and her make-up fully done.

I noticed her lipstick.

I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I’m sure it was something like a T-shirt and basketball shorts and probably even a baseball hat.

I was not wearing lipstick – I didn’t even own lipstick – nor was I wearing any make-up for that matter.

Initial judgment (and not one of my best moments in life): Please don’t let her be my roommate.

“Nice to meet y’all,” she said in a very charming Southern way.

So this is the Texas roommate. Well, I do love her accent.

I lived in an on-campus apartment-style dorm my first year with five other girls. We had all written letters to each other before moving in to introduce ourselves. There were two from Utah, one from California, one from Kentucky, one from Texas and me from Missouri.

Alexandria Wagley from Gladewater, TX, was about as opposite of me as one could be. We ended up sharing a bedroom in that apartment, and despite my initial ridiculous first impression of her, we quickly became best friends.

We were roommates for two more years before I moved to California. And we had some amazing experiences together. Most of my memories from college involve her in some way. Football games, religion class, late-night Taco Bell runs, listening to music and singing when we should’ve been studying, watching “Friends” and “Seinfeld” and “ER,” driving up into the mountains, talking about guys and so much more.


After I got married and started a family, we didn’t get to see each other much, living 1,200 or so miles away from each other. But we kept in touch as much as we could, in the days before texting and Facebook. When we did get together, though, it was as if we’d never been apart.

But our friendship in this life was cut short. Ten years ago last week, Alex died after a brief but brutal battle with cancer at the age of 29.

I miss her terribly. But she taught me so much in such a short amount of time that I feel she is with me every day. And I could go on and on about all of the things she taught me but I could fill a book.

What I loved most about her was that she was genuinely happy and genuinely good. And her Texas ways always made everything more fun.

In the years since Alex’s death, I’ve kept in touch with her mom. She once wrote me: “Alexandria always continued on and endured cheerfully. She had so many disappointments, but she always came up smiling. She was such an example for me. She was THE force for good in our family.”

It’s been said that you become like the five people you spend the most time with, so choose carefully. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, with the anniversary of her death.

I love this quote by Quentin L. Cook: “People have so much to offer us if we are willing to learn from them. That is why it is important to surround yourself with good people.”

So that is my challenge for all of us. Choose your friends wisely – surround yourself with good people. We can learn a lot from them if we are willing, just like I did from Alex, who continues to bless my life in countless ways.

KC Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid talks family, faith and football

That they might have joy column, NNL, by Jacki Wood

I have admittedly never been a Kansas City Chiefs fan.

But that changed a bit last year when they hired Andy Reid as head coach, who played football at Brigham Young University. And you know how much I love my alma mater, especially BYU football.

So I was thrilled when I was invited to attend a special event with Coach Reid and his wife, Tammy, this past weekend at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Platte City.

It was promoted as an evening of “Family, Faith and Football.” And the Reids did not disappoint to the approximately 800 people in attendance with plenty of laughs and stories from their lives and his coaching career.

Tammy started by sharing their family history. They met in a tennis class at BYU and began dating. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; he was not. They both returned to their homes that summer, Tammy to Arizona and Andy to California, where he began learning more about her church and was eventually baptized.

They both returned to BYU, and a year later, they were married. They have five children, born in five different states due to his various coaching stints, and one grandchild.

She talked about ways their faith has helped their family over the years including the death of their son, Garrett, who died of an accidental heroine overdose a year and a half ago.

“We know that we came from a loving Heavenly Father who sent us to this earth to be tested…and we know we will one day see him again,” she said. “That’s what got us through that really huge trial in our lives.”

Then Coach Reid shared a PowerPoint he presented to his players last week to get ready for the upcoming season.

“We are the Chiefs,” he said. “And we’re going to be a little bit different.”

He continued: “There’s a small margin of victory in the NFL. What are we going to do differently to go win the trophy?”

He talked to his players about practical, simple principles that will help them be a little different, to get to the Super Bowl and to “get that ring” this year.

He told the audience that those same principles he shared with his players are similar to what is taught in his faith and are applicable to everyone.

“Football is a microcosm of life,” he said.

Some of the principles included sacrifice, training, trust and working to win.

Sacrifice: Every team is talented; you have to give up something to get a lot, on and off the field.

Training: Conditioning and knowledge can help you dominate.

Trust: Working hard as a team brings mutual respect for one another. Trust = wins. Players come in as teammates and leave as family.

Work to win: Give your best every day.

Coach Reid concluded by saying: “Surround yourself with greatness. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by great people and I love every minute of it. I jump out of bed early in the morning and I am ready to rock and roll.”

I love that. How many of us are jumping out of bed every morning, excited to tackle to day.

We have to be a little different. And we have to be willing to give up a little to get a lot.