SALT LAKE CITY —26 November 2008 —The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today released a report of its hurricane relief efforts during the 2008 hurricane season. Since late August, the Church has sent dozens of semi-truck loads of supplies to the Gulf Coast to aid those affected by Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike.
Additionally, two planes carrying over 47,000 pounds of supplies flew from Salt Lake City to the Caribbean nation of Haiti in September to help the Haitians recover from the effects of Hurricane Ike.
According the Church’s Welfare Services Department, through the middle of October, the equivalent of about 61 total truckloads of supplies has been donated to the hurricane relief effort.
The effort included 12,000 food boxes, which contain rice, vegetable oil, peanut butter, fruit drink mix and assorted canned goods. Each food box can feed a family of four for several days. Also included were five truckloads of water, 185,000 hygiene kits, 55,000 cleaning kits, 20,000 pounds of clothing and 1,500 tarps.
Additional assistance of food, water, generators, tools, sleeping bags, chainsaws, tarps, fir strips and other items have been given from regional LDS Church storehouses.
Assistance also included volunteers helping with the cleanup effort. Several missionaries in the Houston area wearing yellow Helping Hands t-shirts asked a woman if they could help clean up her yard. In a very firm tone, she indicated that she wanted every leaf raked and the yard cleaned perfectly. The missionaries went out of their way to make sure that they did an extra-special job for her. After they were finished, the woman came out to pay them because she thought she had hired them. When she was told they were doing it for service, she was thrilled.
The Church humanitarian aid system is experienced and well equipped to respond to a variety of disasters, including hurricanes. For instance, the Church provided 200 semi-truck loads of aid and 42,000 man-days of labor in response to Hurricane Katrina.
Disasters, as horrible as they are, give Latter-day Saints a chance to serve. Randy Ellis, Houston cannery manager and disaster volunteer, said: “We get involved because that’s who we are. We’re trying to follow the example of the Savior. It feels good to help your neighbor. We don’t do what we do to get people into the Church. We do it just to help people.”
Houston resident Billie Childress’s gratitude is typical of the many thanks the Mormon Helping Hands volunteers have received. “They have been fantastic,” she said. “They are unbelievable. They are a blessing.”
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.