By Lai Losser
CHARLOTTE – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepared to help the communities devastated by Hurricane Florence by sending 25 truckloads of supplies.
This includes multiple trucks to the Red Cross, Convoy of Hope and communities of Maple Hill and Bergaw.
Supplies included food, water, personal hygiene kits, cleaning kits and equipment such as wheelbarrows, chainsaws, shovels and roof repair tarps. Coastal Latter-day Saint meetinghouses turned into command centers prepped for volunteers.
More than 3,000 Latter-day Saint volunteers from around the Carolinas traveled to Wilmington, Jacksonville and Burgaw to help nearly 1,200 homes impacted by the storm. Donned in their well-known yellow “Helping Hands” T-shirts, volunteers spent a recent weekend chopping up fallen trees and clearing debris,
pausing only for a brief worship service Sunday morning.
“If you want to know what Jesus Christ was all about, one thing He did over and over, was service,” said Glenn Beckworth, a Charlotte resident and local church leader. He was one of 326 volunteers sent by 16 congregations in the greater Charlotte area who volunteered 4,718 hours of their time in a recent weekend. Volunteers included dozens of teenagers.
When asked why he would get up early on a Saturday morning and drive nearly four hours one-way to clear debris, 14-year-old Brian Louchez answered, “People need help, and I’m able to help.”
Emma and David Wilson, of Matthews, left their house Saturday at 5 a.m. to head east. Both of their own parents live in coastal towns impacted by Florence.
“The streets of Wilmington are lined with piles and piles of tree debris, and there are still broken trees and limbs hanging everywhere,” Emma Wilson noted. “We helped in one area in Leland where the houses were flooded and had begun the house gutting process.”
The Wilsons’ Helping Hands team worked with seven homeowners on a recent Saturday and three homeowners on Sunday morning, before beginning the 3.5 hour drive back to Charlotte.
“It’s sad to see so much destruction, but the people we helped were so thankful for what we were able to do for them,” Emma Wilson said. “I’m grateful that we were able to go and help make a small difference in the lives of those who were affected.”
More Helping Hands volunteers were heading to the ravaged Carolina coast.
“The cleanup efforts have been been very successful so far, and it is wonderful to see what can be done when people of all faiths come together to help those in need,” says Steve Page, a Concord resident and the president that oversees eight congregations in central and eastern Charlotte. “There is much more to be done, but we sincerely appreciate all that has been done by so many to serve and help those in need. Those being helped have been so grateful, and there have been many special moments shared by all as brothers and sisters have come together as children of God to care for one another.”