LDS women help Utah Refugee Center serve those in need

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SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is encouraging Mormon women to help refugees around the world.

They launched the effort in a letter from the First Presidency of the Relief Society this past November, and now FOX 13 News’ Tamara Vaifanua shows us how one group of women took that letter to the next level.

“Every year, our stake does a humanitarian project of some kind for our stake Relief Society,” said Marilyn Simister, a member of the LDS Church’s Lindon West Stake.

This year, the women of the Lindon West Stake (A stake is a regional-level organization that consists of several local congregations called wards) decided to focus on the Utah Refugee Center.

“When Deb Coffey came and she spoke to us with our women's dinner, she really painted the picture of kind of how bleak some of these people's situations are, and the sacrifices that they’ve gone through,” said Michele Farrer, another member of the Lindon West Stake.

Coffey, who is the Executive Director for the Utah Refugee Center, said those stories touch the people who hear them.

“It’s a very relatable story,” she said. “I think oftentimes we forget what our predecessors and our family members and those people did, as they had a lot of hardships in order to make our country what it is today."

Earlier this week, women from the stake dropped off more than 80 donations at the refugee center. While most of the donations were cleaning or personal hygiene kits, there were also a few fleece blankets and bedding kits.

“When you think about that and the luxuries we are so blessed with here, a simple tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush seems pretty insignificant, so it was really a simple, easy project, but very impactful and meaningful for these people,” Farrer said of the effort.

Worldwide, there are more than 60 million refugees. Some are forcibly displaced, and about half are children.

“Very heartbreaking,” Coffey said. “A lot of our refugees that live here amongst us, they come with single mothers oftentimes, and they’ve witnessed really catastrophic things that none of us can imagine.”

A new website launched by the LDS Church aims to support the relief effort. The website will show women how they can get involved through volunteering or offering donations. Click here to visit.

“I believe that this is just the beginning, and that we will start to see the deep and meaningful impacts of the members of the LDS Church,” Coffey said.

While the effort is focused on Mormon women, anyone is welcome to get involved.

The Utah Refugee Center launched an app this weekend called Serve Refugees, and it will show users the ways they can help. Visit their website for details or to download that application for IOS or Android devices.