Helping Hands Volunteers to Spend Conference Weekend in Cleanup Efforts in North Carolina

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News associate editor

  • 5 October 2018

Members from the Apex North Carolina Stake pose for a group photo during cleanup efforts in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo by Justin Burnette.

Article Highlights

  • Members and missionaries have mobilized across communities devastated by Hurricane Florence.

“It’s been amazing to see the cooperation and how well-organized the Church is in delivering supplies and assistance to those in need.” —Elder Matthew Harding, Area Seventy

“It does a soul good.”

Those five simple words, expressed by a Latter-day Saint in North Carolina following another “satisfying and exhausting” weekend of hot and muddy cleanup efforts across the Tar Heel State, aptly describe the work being performed.

For the past couple of weeks, members and missionaries have mobilized across communities devastated by Hurricane Florence. Much work has been accomplished. Much more will be required in the coming weeks as once-inundated cities such as Wilmington, New Bern, and Lumberton continue their recovery.

“It’s been amazing to see the cooperation and how well-organized the Church is in delivering supplies and assistance to those in need,” said Elder Matthew Harding, an Area Seventy from Raleigh. “We all have a common goal, and it’s beautiful to see.”

The weekend of September 29–30 was defined by the growls of chain saws and the grunts of heavy lifting as members in Helping Hands T-shirts cleared out fallen trees and waterlogged homes.

In the storm-affected communities being served by the Raleigh coordinating council, for example, more than 2,700 volunteers completed over 44,000 work hours. More than 1,000 online work orders were completed.

“In addition to wonderful experiences with individuals and families, we’ve had a number of quality interactions with other congregations such as the Baptists and Christian Scientists,” reported local public affairs director William Calhoun. “I’ve loved joining hands in prayer with so many of these good people when the cleanup is completed on their properties.”

Thousands more volunteers are expected to fill work assignments in the coming weeks in both North and South Carolina.

While members across the globe will take time off October 6–7 to watch general conference, teams of Helping Hands volunteers will be busy at work. Elder Harding said most will likely watch rebroadcasts of sessions during non-work hours.

The Area Seventy agreed no one ever wants to witness a storm such as Florence again. But he noted the Church has made several new friends as wards and stakes travel across North Carolina to help folks of all backgrounds in need.

“They are all working together to bring some sense of relief.”

A homeowner shakes hands with a Helping Hands volunteer in North Carolina. Photo by Stephanie Williamson.

Young women from the Apex North Carolina Stake clear out fallen branches from a yard in Wilmington. Photo by Chantelle Pacheco.