Adelaide, South Australia
There were smiles everywhere on Saturday 15th October as church members gathered to sort and pack a mountain of donations ready to deliver this week to the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) in Adelaide.
The food staples of rice, pasta, dried beans and other essentials were provided by Marion Stake members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints via a four-month long Mormon Helping Hands initiative. The stake project began with a winter warmth drive through which 250 blankets and quilts were delivered to the ARA as gifts for refugee families as they settled into their new homes in Adelaide.
Project coordinator Ian McKay said approximately $5000 worth of goods were sorted and boxed during the working bee.
“I think most people can relate to being new in a community and the stresses of adjusting, but for refugees it is a new country with all kinds of differences to deal with. We wanted to say ‘welcome’ and this was one way to do that.”
ARA representative Rachel Nyiramugisha attended the Saturday activity and was invited to speak about the needs of refugees in South Australia.
“At the Australian Refugee Association, we strive to meet our clients’ needs, whether it is a blanket to keep warm in winter or food they might not have,” said Rachel.
“We are grateful for the generosity of people in the community like everyone in the LDS congregation who took time to not only buy items but also to help pack them. Each item donated, small or big, is received with a warm welcome because we know that it will go a long way in helping someone, whether it’s a ‘welcome to the community’ or to give someone some Christmas cheer.”
“Some of the items donated will be kept for emergency requests and some will be used for our annual Christmas hampers. Thank you for your generosity.”
Rachel, who took part in the boxing up of goods alongside church members, also encouraged people to reach out to refugees in additional welcoming ways, including as a volunteer with the association.
A portion of the donations, including most of the canned goods, will go to the Welcome to Australia refugee organisation.
The Marion Stake project was one of many projects held or yet to be held Australia-wide during October Mormon Helping Hands Month. Other local efforts include flood-affected property clean-ups, and a scheduled Saturday 29 October volunteer clean-up blitz at Adelaide’s popular Cleland Wildlife Park.