LDS volunteers, community help refugees


Hundreds of Latter-day Saint volunteers joined with other community members to serve some 600 refugee families in the Salt Lake Valley on Dec. 24. The project — sponsored by The Granite Education Foundation, Utah Refugee Center and The Refugee & Immigrant Center-Asian Association of Utah — provided hygiene products, clothes, coats and toys for local refugees.

Deb Coffey, executive director of Utah Refugee Center, said the project was possible because Utah has many families in need and many families willing to help. “Hundreds and hundreds of people have stepped up,” she said. Some 300 volunteers gathered Christmas Eve morning in the old Granite High School auditorium, located on 3300 South and 500 East in South Salt Lake, to distribute two semi-trailer loads of donated goods.

“It feels right to be serving [on Christmas Eve],” said Michael Mann, a returned missionary from Draper, Utah.

Refugee Hawo Bulle, the mother of nine children, said she is grateful for the aid. “We will have a good Christmas,” she said.

Rick Foster of Church Welfare Services said the generosity of local Latter-day Saints helped, in large measure, to make the effort possible.

Andy and Kacey Olson spent the morning with their children serving refugees. “We have been so blessed, we are so happy to give to those that have less,” said Kacey Olson. “This is what Christmas is all about.”

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