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Pure religion: 'More than we gave'

Major flooding occurred in the Midwestern United States during the third week of August 2007, resulting in heavy rainfall and flooding in six states.

Near Findlay, Ohio, the Blanchard River rose seven feet above flood level. Twenty families in the Findlay Ward of the Toledo Ohio Stake had damage to their homes. Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society acted quickly to pump water from basements and clean homes with disinfectants.

Church members also assisted others in the community who had suffered losses in the flood. With the approval of stake president Dennis R. Smith, Bishop Vincent Jones organized a volunteer effort that involved about 850 members and full-time missionaries from throughout the region.

Joseph Vermilion of the Findlay Ward was asked to chair the logistics committee. As shipments of food and cleaning supplies from bishop's storehouses arrived at the ward building, he coordinated the sorting and delivery work. His wife, Tilda, was equally involved, helping with meals and safety training for volunteers who would be using the cleaning kits. For a week they spent most of their waking hours at their ward building. They invited volunteers from out of town to bring tents and camp in the yard at their home.

Church volunteers cleaned 363 homes, 15 city parks, three city buildings, one school playground, one cemetery, eight small businesses, 20 first-responder vehicles, and 15 miles of public road. They distributed 6,896 cleaning kits, 1,250 hygiene kits, and 37,000 pounds of food.

Brother Vermilion summarized the thoughts expressed by many at a fast and testimony meeting held the first Sunday in September. "As volunteers, we felt really good about how we were blessing the lives of others through our service. But in reality, we received much more than we gave. I've never experienced such feelings of unity and love in our ward and community before." — Susan C. Rather, Welfare Services

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