AMERICAN FORK, Utah The recent hurricanes which have left devastation in their wake may be a couple thousand miles from Utah, but hundreds of Latter-day Saints in northern Utah County feel a closeness to the victims.
For the past two weeks, the American Fork Utah East Stake Center has been a flurry of activity as members from several stakes have gathered to assemble hygiene kits to be sent to hurricane victims. The first week, 31,000 kits were put together in just two days, more than half of those in one session. Some 8,400 of those kits left Salt Lake City Sept. 15 on Church-owned Deseret Transportation trucks headed to Florida.
More than 10,000 more hygiene kits were assembled Tuesday evening, Sept. 21, by around 250 volunteers who came from stakes in Alpine, Highland, Lehi, Cedar Hills, and Pleasant Grove, as well as American Fork.
RoseAnn Gunther is supervisor for the American Fork Humanitarian Room (stake center), one of only a few throughout the Church where kits of various kinds are prepared for immediate shipment when disaster strikes. She coordinates service at the multi-stake level with the Church's humanitarian needs and the products available.
For the past two weeks, people of all ages have filled the cultural hall and every available classroom to get the job done, first folding two small towels and slipping them into plastic zipper bags. Added to those family-size kits are four toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste, two combs and two bars of soap.
"It's a thrill to see people give of their time to serve those in need," said Sister Gunther. "It's sweet to see 250 people, including youth and children, come in to help.."
The Church's usual three-month supply of 150,000 hygiene kits has been depleted with the recent hurricanes, and Sister Gunther said this massive humanitarian effort will continue as long as the supplies and the needs are there.
Meanwhile, some 170,00 hygiene kits have been assembled at the LDS Humantarian Center in response to the storms. Many more additional kits have been requested from the center.