From the Church

May 9 update: How the Church is helping eastern European refugees

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The Lviv meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that was transformed into a refugee center.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

From the earliest hours of the crisis, the Church—through its members and humanitarian partnerships—has been actively involved in the relief efforts for refugees in Europe.

Read the First Presidency statement on the armed conflict here.

Read below for the most recent updates on what members are doing to help, according to this Church Newsroom page.

Are you looking for a way to help? Through decades of experience in providing assistance during natural disasters, refugee crises, and other humanitarian conditions, the Church has developed a tested and proven model for identifying needs and providing assistance. This model includes empowering local leaders to use the Church’s financial resources to purchase goods and services in the local economy to provide what is truly needed. Visit this link to donate to the Church’s humanitarian aid efforts. For members living in Europe, you can find news, resources, and donation links here.

► You may also like: Elder Uchtdorf shares heartbreak for refugees + how we can help

May 9, 2022

Kym Reichart and Raphaela Hasse of Schwabmünchen, Germany, have delivered relief supplies to a chapel in Lviv, Ukraine, many times in the past two months.

The parish hall of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lviv serves not only as a collection point but, according to Reichart, a place where people “can draw strength before they continue to the border, as most refugees only stay two or three nights.”

When Reichart heard about the need for drivers to transport supplies to Ukraine through a local businessperson, she felt compelled to offer her services. Her father assisted with the Berlin airlift in 1949.

You can read more about Reichart and Hasse’s relief efforts as well as other Church members’ involvement on the Church’s UK Newsroom.

April 21, 2022

European leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have expressed heartfelt thanks for the “tremendous outreach and support” offered to “our brothers and sisters from Ukraine in their dire circumstances.”

In an April 9 letter announcing additional refugee assistance, the Church’s Europe Area Emergency Response Council said, “The willingness to help those in need reflects the true love of Christ.” The Church authorized special funds to be used locally by each stake (local multi-congregational areas) across the Church’s Europe North and Europe Central Areas for the support of Ukrainian refugees.

Below are accounts of how Latter-day Saints are turning their hearts to service in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK.

The Netherlands

When reports came of refugees coming to the Netherlands, the council of churches in Zoetermeer set up a core team to aid and house the refugees arriving in the city. The team realized that the shoes of incoming Ukrainian refugees were far too warm for the Dutch weather. Soon, a shoe campaign was set in motion.

Michael Vis, a Latter-day Saint member of the council, used the JustServe network (a volunteer service organization organized by the Church and utilized by communities) to find new and nearly new shoes. Church members contacted friends and neighbors to help. Over 350 pairs of shoes were donated, sorted, cleaned, and brushed as needed. Five cars were filled with shoes and then transported to De Pelgrim, an activity center and gathering place for refugees. Volunteers from various churches assembled and stocked the shoe racks, and everything was ready for business when the shop opened at 10 a.m. the following Tuesday.

Switzerland

Members of the Zurich Stake in Switzerland delivered 100 wound suture sets, 500 kilograms of canned food and 10 boxes of other goods to the Kyiv Stake. The stake is also delivering medical supplies (syringes and cannulas) for hospitals in Kyiv and Dymer.

The Zurich Stake is working closely with the Kyiv and Vienna Stakes to organize donations that are most needed locally. The Church meetinghouse (parish hall) in the municipality of Freiburg is serving as a collection point and welcome center for refugees. Ukrainian mothers and their children come by almost daily to interact and gather whatever they need.

UK

Over 20 women in the Chelmsford 1st and 2nd wards (congregations) of the Ipswich Stake recently collaborated with members of its local parish council to make welcome packs for Ukrainian refugees arriving in their community.

The women donated the materials and sewed the bags, which the council then filled with toiletries, medical supplies, teddy bears, coloring books, and new clothing for children. Over 100 bags were quickly completed and ready to be delivered.

Donna Hance, the local Events and Funding Manager said, “The bags will bring some comfort to families who in such difficult times may feel that asking for such items will be a burden.”

Read more about the refugee relief efforts in the UK, Switzerland, and The Netherlands on UK Newsroom.


April 11, 2022

Since the onset of the crisis, Welfare and Self-Reliance Services (WSRS), a department of the Church, has been proactively involved in hundreds of humanitarian outreach efforts throughout Europe.

Together, with local Church leaders and members, the department is coordinating assistance for those of all faiths at border crossings, gathering hubs and local Church buildings.

In Poland, Humanitarian missionaries are supporting volunteer efforts at the large Tesco refugee reception center. Several young Church missionaries are busy there cleaning, serving food and providing language assistance. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated a laptop to support the volunteer coordinator in keeping track of information on volunteers, and a washing machine to help expedite the cleaning of mops, towels, and supplies.

In Hungary, the Church found an NGO that is renting an entire hotel for refugees. This 62-room hotel can house up to three hundred women and children for short-term stays. The Church will help cover the cost of rent at the hotel.

Read the full release of relief efforts for refugees in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Iceland on UK Newsroom.

April 4, 2022

Latter-day Saints throughout Europe continue to find ways to help refugees. UK Newsroom highlights service rendered in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Moldova, Poland, and Slovakia.

Germany
Twenty women from Church congregations in Frankfurt and Friedrichsdorf helped Ukrainian refugees on March 19th to celebrate the 180th birthday of the Relief Society, the Church’s worldwide women’s service organization. They used the Church’s community service connection platform, JustServe, to arrange to paint furniture at a Caritas homeless refugee center in Frankfurt. A Ukrainian mother and her family were on vacation in the Dominican Republic when the conflict began. They were marooned without documents and with only holiday clothes, now finding themselves at the shelter in Frankfurt. She was deeply moved as she helped volunteers, who shared her plight, paint unused furniture. Together they painted the furniture in cheerful colors and designs, and it is used now for outdoor seating by guests of the Centre.

Moldova
In cooperation with other religious organizations in Moldova, the Church, is providing food for refugees. Moldova Christian Aid Society offers hot meals at three border crossings between Ukraine and Moldova and has reached out to other religious groups for help with displaced refugees. Volunteers from all over Moldova prepare hot meals in the early morning which then are taken to the border crossings by noon.  The meals consist of meat, potatoes, rice, and vegetables. Volunteers also provide water, fruit, and bread. Families crossing on foot can find hot meals waiting for them. Even the border guards get involved and help deliver meals to refugees while vehicles are waiting in lines to cross the border.

Poland
Christina and David Foote, full-time volunteers for the Church, report “People are arriving in Krakow, Poland after three or four days on the road. They are mostly mothers with young children, often with grandparents, weary of travel and carrying belongings in shopping bags or heavy rucksacks.” Clearly, refugees have found rolling suitcases to be a godsend. One mother shared “My children, my parents and I had been traveling for days, each with two rucksacks. So, when the missionaries offered me rolling suitcases, a tear came to my eye. I knew I was safe.”

David adds, “Usually, we come into the train station with four suitcases per team member, so up to twenty at a time. We then search around the station looking for people who need them—they are all dispersed in less than ten minutes. Then we go back for more suitcases—one day we gave away at least sixty.” Christina comments “This work is exhausting, physically and emotionally. But when we tell them that people all over the world are praying for them, you can see the light come into their eyes with renewed hope. We can see we have lightened someone else’s burden, and perhaps even helped answer a prayer. It is all so worthwhile.”

France
Maryna and her two young children found a fresh start in Mulhouse, France after they fled the violence in Ukraine. Their story began with transport delays, heavy backpacks, waiting at the border, and finally, a train west. In France, members of the Mulhouse church congregation provided Maryna’s family with food, lodging, clothing, and friendship. Christophe Mortier, a Church leader, together with relief agency APPUIS, only needed one week to secure new French documents. For the next three years, the documents provide the right to protection by the state, medical and financial support, and the opportunity to work. Once the children enrolled in school with skilled teachers and new friends, the family could breathe easier, and start thinking about the future.

Slovakia
Slovak Church members are actively helping refugees crossing the border in the eastern part of the country. They provide new arrivals with short-term or long-term accommodation, help with transport, and offer food and basic necessities. They also assist refugees with legalities, general orientation, and resources. Thanks to the collective help of the government and community aid, the refugees are well provided for. Slovak Church members welcome their incoming brothers and sisters with open arms to Sunday meetings and other activities. The Church is also active in numerous humanitarian projects in cooperation with other organizations.

Czech Republic
Local Church members in Liberec, Czech Republic, have been active in multiple projects launched simultaneously to help member refugee families arriving in the city. Some local members offered housing. Other members and refugees combined efforts to convert the little-used upper floor of their rented chapel space for occupancy. In yet another project, local members joined with the Greek Catholic and Evangelical churches to launch a maternity center and nursery for Ukrainian mothers and children. "The program and daily care for the children are provided by Ukrainian members of our congregation," said Bohdana Hanzalová, a Czech member from Liberec. “Here, mothers of all faiths will also be able to handle administrative tasks, make friends with the other mothers, or search for employment.” For a more in-depth article, in Czech, click here.

March 25, 2022

The Church of Jesus Christ has committed an additional $4 million to humanitarian efforts in Europe. This latest donation will help these seven projects:

  • Food for food hubs in Europe, where this sustenance will be picked up and delivered to those in need within Ukraine.
  • Project HOPE’s efforts to provide refugees with first aid, medication, hygiene supplies, infant care kits, shelter, and trauma counseling.
  • International Medical Corps’ work to provide refugees in Poland with medication, medical equipment, and personal protective gear.
  • Food for Estonian Food Bank to feed 17,500 refugees for one month.
  • Underwear and other clothing for 30,000 women and children at the Polish border, distributed via the Przemysl Municipality.
  • The Association of Neonatologists of Ukraine’s efforts to provide antibiotics for infants in Ukraine. Some newborns are suffering from fungal lung disease because they are being born in hospital basements. These antibiotics will be administered through established clinics within the country.
  • Jesuit Refugee Service’s work to provide shelter, transportation, food, water, medical care, and psychological support for children and the elderly in Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

The Church of Jesus Christ continues to be engaged in many other similar projects throughout Europe. Read about them at the UK Newsroom.


March 18, 2022

  • The Europe Area continues to take an active part in relief efforts. See this article on the UK Newsroom for recent Latter-day Saint outreach in Poland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, France, Denmark, and Austria.
  • The Church is helping IsraAID (Israel’s largest humanitarian aid organization) with a project in Moldova for Ukrainian refugees. IsraAID is distributing essential relief items and setting up areas to help parents and children overcome the trauma of being forced to flee or witness violence. IsraAID is also providing self-care and psychological first aid to first responders. The project will benefit some 70,000 people.
  • The Church is working with Caritas (an organization inspired by the teachings of Catholicism) in Bulgaria to support 8,300 Ukrainian refugees with one month’s worth of food, shelter, and medical care. The project supports Bulgaria’s economy because the food comes from local grocery stores.

March 11, 2022

In Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain, Latter-day Saints are helping refugees with food, clothing, baby items, shelter, and more. Carmen Pârnău, a volunteer in Romania, said she has witnessed heartbreaking scenes. “I have seen many mothers with little children that struggled because of the cold weather and extreme exhaustion.” Stacy Chandler, a local women’s leader in Poland, said this humanitarian crisis “will change the face of the Church in Poland forever.” Read more on the Church’s UK Newsroom here.

► You may also like: Sis. Eubank: How the Church was poised to assist amid conflict in Europe


March 5, 2022

An update on service rendered in Austria, Germany, Poland, Prague, and Ukraine: The Kyiv Stake presidency is helping Latter-day Saints who live in the stake boundaries. The Austria Vienna stake is also collecting and organizing supplies to be distributed by leaders in Kyiv. Missionaries in Berlin are visiting train stations with large signs showing the languages they speak. They are helping refugees from Ukraine find transportation and other assistance. Two trucks loaded with supplies from the Church departed from Frankfurt, Germany, for Hungary and Romania. Donated items include 1,000 sleeping bags, 500 cots, and 10 tents. The Order of Malta and the Red Cross in Hungary and the Jesuit Refugee Service in Romania are distributing these items to refugees who arrive in those countries.

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Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provide help and orientation to refugees arriving in Berlin, Germany.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

March 3, 2022

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement about the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe:

Many are asking how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been helping with the developing humanitarian crisis resulting from the current armed conflict. From the earliest hours, the Church began contacting friends and collaborating organizations in the region to assess needs and purchase food and other necessities.

Through decades of experience in providing assistance during natural disasters, refugee crises, and other humanitarian conditions, we have developed a tested and proven model for identifying needs and providing assistance. This model includes empowering local leaders to use the Church’s financial resources to purchase goods and services in the local economy to provide what is truly needed.

Following this pattern, the Europe Area Presidency is working with the Church headquarters teams to identify and address needs. Relief supplies—including sleeping bags, cots, and tents—are being delivered to local government agencies, the Red Cross, and other NGOs who are attending to Ukrainian refugees arriving in bordering countries. Additional aid is being organized. Church members and friends have also been invited to fast and pray for those so deeply impacted. More will be shared about their efforts in the coming days and weeks.

Church members around the world have inquired about how to help or contribute. We invite them to do so through the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund, which will be used to address this and other crises.

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