Mormon Helping Hands lift spirits in Texas


Texas residents affected by severe Memorial Day weather received aid and assistance from hundreds of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers on Saturday, May 30.

Just days before, central Texas was hit with thunderstorms and tornados, leaving more than 1,000 homes flooded, several people dead and many missing.

Local Church leaders reached out to disaster relief organizations and called their congregations to action. The result: 750 members from the five stakes in the Austin-metro area joined forces with the American Red Cross of Texas, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster of Central Texas, and Austin Disaster Relief Network to help the cause.

“The LDS volunteers have been nothing short of amazing,” Daniel Geraci, executive director of the ADRN said. “They worked quickly to finish mucking out severely damaged homes and then they went on to help clear flood debris and damaged property in a low-income government housing project.”

The hundreds of members served a combined total of 3,671 hours in five cities outside Austin: Bastrop, Martindale, San Marcos, Taylor and Wimberley.

One family was especially grateful for the Mormon Helping Hands volunteers. The Perez family of Taylor had owned their home for nearly 58 years and raised their family of 12 children there without ever experiencing flooding. On May 25, three feet of water filled their house and destroyed the flooring along with most of their belongings. The family was grateful when the volunteers removed the destroyed floor and loose sheetrock.

The Austin Metro Area spokesman for the Church, Stewart Dickson, was thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside those who are not of the same faith. “In this effort, there was a unique opportunity for priesthood leaders to reach out to and invite less-active members and those not of our faith to work shoulder to shoulder with members of the Church in this massive cleanup effort,” he said.

Greg Allen, a volunteer from the Round Rock Texas East Stake, was happy to help. “It does not really hit home until you are actually in someone’s house and you realize what they have lost. To be able to help these people in a time of need is a great experience and I am grateful to be part of it,” he said.

Brother Dickson also saw the blessings that come with serving others. “The hand of the Lord has been revealed as members of the Church have reached out into their communities and showcased their desire to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ by serving their neighbors,” he said.

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