In the Spirit of true service and discipleship of our Saviour Jesus Christ many wards and branches around the UK responded to the plight of the refugees over the summer and autumn months with donations and support. Here are a few edited stories about the various efforts of stakes.
Dumfries and Galloway - Scotland
By Margo McClumpa
The plight of refugees struggling to get to a country where they can live in peace is well known throughout the world but after seeing the recent refugees across Europe Moxie DePaulitte from the charity group, ‘Dumfries and Galloway Refugee Action’, decided to help alleviate their suffering. Bishop Goodare of the Dumfries Ward, Edinburgh, Scotland Stake gave permission for the church building to be used as a collection hub for donations for refugees.
“Within 48 hours 2,000 people had signed up to offer help and give donations. This was not a church initiative. Several of our church members wanted to help in whatever way they could,” he remarked.
Within four days of the plea for donations, hundreds of bags of clothing, camping equipment, toiletries and sleeping mats arrived at the church. Food items were donated by local supermarkets.
During the time that the church was open for donations, members. Friends and neighbours worked side by side sorting clothing. Parents brought their children to help in this community service project. Church youth assisted in sorting clothing and bagging items. LDS missionaries also helped in this endeavour. A lady volunteer spoke of being hugged by other volunteers and “was so glad to be part of a church that opens its doors when help is required.” Another declared, “It was faith promoting.”
By Sara Campbell
Dundee Refugee Support urged the people of Dundee, The Lord Provost and local Faith leaders including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to 'Light up the Law' at a special gathering to highlight the plight of those in need of refuge in the current crisis across Europe. Hundreds gathered to remember those who are once again are risking their lives in hope of a better future. Speeches were given from local community groups, trade unions, charities and faiths. President John Keogh of the Dundee Stake Presidency of the Church quoted the President of the Church, President Thomas S Monson, 'You make a living from what you get, you make a life by what you give.'
The Dundee Refugee Support group encouraged the community to make a donation of supplies including tents and sleeping bags and to volunteer some time to help sort and pack for such a worthy cause.
By Tracey Prior
After receiving guidelines from the Europe Area Presidency on providing assistance for the refugees in Europe the Merthyr Tydfil stake made plans to help. On Sunday 20th September local church leaders within the area began the appeal for donations and by Tuesday 22nd September, over two tons was ready for collection. The next day President Govier, with the assistance of Joshua Pulman and David Roberts, drove a member’s van over 200 miles collecting the donations, finally delivering them to the Welsh Refugee Council in Swansea.
President Govier remarked: “I just want to say a big thank you for the donations made by the wonderful members of the Merthyr Tydfil Wales Stake to assist refugees currently living within the boundaries of our stake.”
The local lead for the Welsh Refugee Council, Lina Liu, commented, “You and all your members in the church truly did a wonderful thing. Your generosity will directly benefit all the refugees and their families in Swansea who access our services. We have started giving things out to clients who are in the greatest need. Your help means a lot to them. Most of them flee from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Ethiopia etc. and your support has helped and will definitely help them to go through the transition period a lot more smoothly.”
By Eileen Webb
A special effort has been made in Huddersfield to help refugees who are fleeing their war torn home countries. Diane Brill of the Huddersfield 2nd Ward, moved by the plight of the refugees, asked the members to bring whatever donations they could to the meeting house. Clothes, bedding, and foodstuffs were all quickly collected which were then taken to the Carlile Community Interest building in nearby Meltham which had been designated as a collection point for the area.
Under the direction of Bishop Sam Bridgstock members of the Meltham Ward rallied to the cause, together with local neighbours, who descended on the centre and completed all the packing.
Mr Richard Noon, the co-ordinator at the centre, was very impressed with the willingness and industry of the members who helped. On the centre's Facebook page was the comment, 'Thanks to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion that is always the first to help.'
By Shawna Denny
Primary children of the Tunbridge Wells Ward recently pitched in to provide a helping hand to Syrian refugees in Hungarian refugee camps. Collecting items from members and sorting them on the day, they proved to be a valuable asset. Working with local group, RefugEase, the cause collected items such as clothing, nappies, wipes, sleeping bags, sanitary items, toothpastes and toothbrushes, to name a few. The combined efforts managed to fill two month’s quota for hygiene products for the Hungarian refugee camps.
“They all worked very hard and were absolutely exhausted, but after working two hours straight, the children asked if there was anything else they could help with. People were in awe,” primary leader Angela Friend said. “Others were impressed and kept asking, ‘Who are you people?’” Over 2000 participants from the local community joined together in the charitable cause and helped to collect approximately eight tons of needed goods over the period of a month, a load that was transported to the camps in twelve trucks.
By Debbie Twigger
The women of the Northampton stake contributed clothing, food and footwear to Calais Action Initiative over the October General Conference weekend in response to Stake Relief Society President Traci De Marco’s request. Sister De Marco commented, ' We see this as a great opportunity to come together as daughters in the gospel, realising our Relief Society motto that 'Charity Never Faileth' and feel of the blessings that come from helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters, who right now, really need our help.”
With an e mail sent out to all ward RS presidents and a post on the stake RS Facebook page, two days before Women’s Conference, the donations gratefully received were taken to the collecting point at the University of Northampton on the Monday – a very fast turnaround.
By Christine Delve
Sisters from the Basingstoke Ward and their local community friends have been busy collecting donations for women and children affected by the European refugee crisis. The response to the collection was overwhelmingly generous with many kindly donating coats, hats, shoes, nappies, wipes, clothes, tents and toys for the women and children in Calais, Syria and two Greek Islands.
A Just Giving page was set up to fund the shipment and a total of £213 was raised. Local businesses were approached and the very generous Local Parcel Network Limited offered to fund and deliver 13 of the boxes to Kos, Greece.
The young women organised the donations into 7 bin liners and 23 boxes for transportation. The aid has now been distributed to help the refugees in Calais, Syria and the Greek Islands of Lesvos and Kos.
By Julie Harrald
The work done in Loughborough was organised by member Michelle Richey who felt the need to respond to the crisis. She sought out an organisation to work through and selected CalAid, as they had an infrastructure set up to receive and deliver donated goods. Priesthood leaders were happy for the meeting house to be used as a collection point which was publicised in the local newspaper and promoted at Loughborough University where Michelle works.
The appeal was posted on the ward Facebook page with details of exactly what items were required, when the chapel would be open for dropping items off and an appeal for help with sorting the goods on 3rd October.
Local Church leaders allowed the use of the building and goods were donated by both members and the public including coats, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, rucksacks, towels and men's clothes. In the end, there were about 15 boxes which were delivered to the CalAid collection point later that afternoon.