An urgent email was sent on a Tuesday evening to some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The email asked for 150 volunteers to be at the Church’s Welfare Production and Distribution Center the following morning. On Wednesday approximately 250 volunteers arrived at the Distribution Center in Tucker eager and ready to help. Their assignment was to fill food boxes for victims of Hurricane Irma.
“The Church does this to bless people’s lives,” said Stephen Aboagye, manager of the Southeast Region Welfare Production and Distribution Center for the Church. “To help people so they can stand on their feet and are able to move forward. In times of disaster, being able to provide some basic needs help those providing the service and those receiving the service grow a little stronger.”
The City of Tucker’s Mayor, Frank Auman, Senator Steve Henson and Emory Morsberger, President of the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District, heard of the assignment and wanted to attend.
“I am extremely impressed and thankful for the hundreds of volunteers that turned out at the center in Tucker on a moment’s notice,” said Senator Henson. “The generous gift of tons of food and supplies for areas affected by Hurricane Irma is amazing.”
Four assembly lines were created to fill each box with items such as canned soup and stew, cereal, peanut butter, jam, dry non-fat milk, a bottle with water filter and more. Enough food to feed a family of four for a few days.
“The operation itself is remarkable,” said Frank Auman, Mayor of Tucker. “A pleasure to know that you [the Church] do what you do. It’s just amazing the scale of it and the professionalism. The idea that you are trying to be self-sufficient so you can be available to help others. That’s a great philosophy and very valuable.”
The Church is aiding in the aftermath by continuing to send supplies, food and water over the next few weeks. It plans to send 6,800 boxes of food to Florida that will be distributed to people in the communities.
“Being able to give back a little bit, even just food goes a long way,” said Calvin Shaw, 16, one of the volunteers. “They don’t have to worry about what they are going to eat. They can focus on other things like their homes and other things they have to get done. When we serve others and serve those in the community, it’s a way for us to give back to our Heavenly Father. We can give some of our time to the Lord by serving His children.”
In three hours, the volunteers filled 2,000 boxes of food. The trucks were also loaded with additional supplies to aid hurricane victims and relief workers before heading to Florida Thursday morning.
“City of Tucker is a caring community,” said John McHenry, City of Tucker’s Director of Community and Economic Development. “And it’s great to see other institutions taking time out of their busy day to assist in disaster relief. It’s awesome to see our community come together to help other people out.”
The 250 volunteers included some youth since they were out of school due to power outages that day.
“We knew school was canceled today,” said Julie Shaw, one of the Mormon volunteers. “We thought it would be a good opportunity to bring the kids to come volunteer and help those in need in Florida. We were excited to come! I think it’s wonderful how the Church is able to help. I’m grateful that the Church steps in right away to help those in need. I am grateful to be a part of that.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in metro and north Atlanta are also sending 1,200 volunteers to Florida this weekend to participate in Mormon Helping Hands service projects.