Helping Each Other Through A Tough Year

  • 9 January 2012

Lunches are prepared and distributed at Linwood College

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — The past year has been a very difficult one for many Christchurch residents due to major earthquakes and multiple aftershocks that are continuing to be felt.

In response to many serious difficulties, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have come together to provide relief to fellow Church members and others in the community.

“The Church community needed to be active with helping others even when many of those contributing were also suffering,” says Melanie Riwai-Couch, the Church's South Island Director of Public Affairs.

“Earthquakes, snow, and ongoing hardship gave members in Christchurch numerous opportunities to live the principles of the welfare programme of The Church of Jesus Christ in both officially organised events, and informally, as good neighbours,” she said.

The following are some examples of community service involving Latter-day Saints in 2011:

• Nearly 30,000 daily lunches were provided to 600 students who attended a neighbouring school campus for a term after their school was seriously damaged by earthquakes.

• 10,000 water containers were filled and distributed to residents in Eastern Christchurch, the area most severely impacted by the February 22 earthquake.

• Members' homes were opened to those who had lost theirs.

• Primary children prepared activity packs for children who had lost their homes and were staying in welfare centres.

• A children's play centre received a make-over of its playground area and new resources donated by members of the Church so the play centre could accommodate more children with the closure of other facilities in the city.

• Shovelling was a prominent feature of service in 2011. Both snow and liquefaction were removed in large quantities. Members assisted residents to remove 12 inches of snow that fell in September, and returned again two weeks later.

• Jacquie, who lives in Eastern Christchurch, received help removing liquefaction on Christmas Eve and had this to say, “Thank you all so much for your love and support and fantastic helping hands that shovelled, scooped and swept on Christmas Eve. You have no idea what a huge impact you made to our Christmas. Thank you so much!” This was the fourth time Jacquie's home had to be cleared.

• Compassion was also shown by making up and distributing care packs containing food and personal toiletries to families in need.

• At the end of the year a food collection provided much needed supplies to a depleted food bank in Northern Christchurch.

Lunches are prepared and distributed at Linwood College.

While members in Christchurch were helping the community in 2011, the global Church community also supported Christchurch. The Christchurch Stake received thousands of cards and letters of compassion from around New Zealand and the world. Care packs containing toiletries and kind words were sent for every youth in the city from other stakes. Food packs were also sent for distribution to members and others in need.

Melanie Riwai-Couch says “these and many other charitable acts are inspired by and exemplify the teachings of Jesus Christ.”