In the year since the armed conflict began in Ukraine, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members around the world have poured out support, love and prayers for those affected.
The Church has sent aid in the form of millions of dollars, in addition to thousands of pounds of food and supplies. Church programs have supported refugees and Ukrainians remaining in or returning to the country. And Church members have opened their homes and hearts to refugees, gathered needed items, and found many ways to serve both online and in-person.
At the one-year mark, here is a look at some of those efforts and the history of the humanitarian response.
1. First Presidency statement on armed conflict
The First Presidency issued a statement on Feb. 25, 2022.
“We are heartbroken and deeply concerned by the armed conflict now raging. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in each of the affected areas and throughout the world. Our minds and hearts have been turned toward them and all our brothers and sisters.
“We continue to pray for peace. We know that enduring peace can be found through Jesus Christ. He can calm and comfort our souls even in the midst of terrible conflicts. He taught us to love God and our neighbors.”
2. A proven model for providing assistance
As the situation became a humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe, the Church explained what was being done to help.
“From the earliest hours, the Church began contacting friends and collaborating organizations in the region to assess needs and purchase food and other necessities,” said the statement on March 3.
“Through decades of experience in providing assistance during natural disasters, refugee crises and other humanitarian conditions, we have developed a tested and proven model for identifying needs and providing assistance. This model includes empowering local leaders to use the Church’s financial resources to purchase goods and services in the local economy to provide what is truly needed.”
3. Prepared and ready to help
The Church was ready to help refugees from Eastern Europe at the start of the crisis in Ukraine, explained Sharon Eubank, then first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and director of humanitarian services for the Church as she spoke Friday, March 4, 2022, to a group of international thought leaders.
With a two-year reserve funding in place, the Church through humanitarian services was positioned with food and water several weeks in advance.
4. Day of fasting and prayer in Europe
Mindful of the conflict, commotion and suffering, the Church’s Europe Central Area presidency invited Latter-day Saints in Europe to take part in an areawide day of fasting and prayer on Sunday, March 6, 2022.
As followers of Jesus Christ, “we long for resolution, comfort and peace during these times,” said the letter from the area presidency — Elder Massimo De Feo, Elder Erich W. Kopischke and Elder Ruben V. Alliaud, all General Authority Seventies.
5. Humanitarian and relief efforts in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic and others
Leaders and members of the Church actively participated in humanitarian and relief efforts in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic and others.
President David Chandler of the Poland Warsaw Mission said perhaps more than any other nation on earth, the people of Poland understand the tragedy that is taking place.
“With unparalleled empathy, they have answered the call to bring emotional, physical, and spiritual relief to those seeking refuge. Their joint efforts have fostered a deep feeling of unity which is both palpable and inspiring as they follow the Savior’s example who ‘went about doing good … for God was with Him’” (Acts 10:38).
How the Church, its leaders and members in Europe are providing aid and relief in the humanitarian crisis caused by armed conflict
6. Church donates $4 million to UNHCR and WFP
On March 14, 2022, it was announced that the Church gave $2 million each to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme to help those displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
The funds were being used immediately for core relief items such as blankets, solar lanterns, tents and shelters.
7. Online and in-person efforts
In mid-March 2022, the Church created an online landing page with current news, links, contact information and guidelines on how to help people emotionally in times of crisis. It can be found here: uk.churchofjesuschrist.org/ukraine-europe-area-emergency-response
A Facebook page was also launched for Ukrainian members seeking help. Volunteers with various language skills assist those seeking help or information.
JustServe.org listed service projects by area and ZIP code, including options for serving remotely, with Ukrainian and Polish organizations.
8. The Partner Branch System
Relief efforts continued in March 2022 with a system created by local Church leaders of congregations bordering Ukraine. The Partner Branch System includes 19 Austrian, German and Swiss stakes — mostly along the 1,200-mile border.
Elder De Feo said members of the Church want to emulate the Savior in ministering to those affected by this crisis. And Elder Alliaud said, “It is almost overwhelming to see the goodness and the willingness to serve of so many.”
9. Church donates $4 million for humanitarian projects
On March 25, 2022, the Church announced another $4 million for seven projects to help humanitarian efforts in Europe.
The Europe Central Area also provided a digital and printed manual titled “How To Minister to Others During a Crisis” through Welfare and Self Reliance Services that shares how members can support and strengthen each other during difficult times.
10. Suitcases, furniture, meals and other aid
From rolling suitcases to hot meals, and from painting furniture to creating a maternity center, refugee relief efforts throughout Germany, Moldova, Poland, France, Slovakia and Czech Republic continued to aid displaced Ukrainians.
“This selfless effort is often rewarded by strong feelings of humility, purpose and satisfaction,” the report said. “In this way, both the served and those who serve are blessed.”
See how rolling suitcases, border meals, painted furniture and maternity wards provided by European Saints are helping Ukrainian refugees
11. Efforts from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Iceland and United Kingdom
An update on April 9, 2022, explained how the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services has been proactively involved in hundreds of humanitarian outreach efforts throughout Europe.
Together with local Church leaders and members, Welfare and Self-Reliance Services is coordinating assistance for those of all faiths at border crossings, gathering hubs and local Church buildings.
12. Elder Uchtdorf ministers to refugees in Poland
Sunday, April 10, 2022, offered a few hours of light and hope for Latter-day Saint refugees from Ukraine. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — himself a two-time refugee — presided over a devotional for Ukrainian refugees who found temporary refuge in Poland.
Elder Uchtdorf’s counsel Sunday to the Ukrainians was imbued with kindness and love.
“We admire you and pray for you every day,” he said.
13. Inside the home of German members housing refugees
On April 24, 2022, a Church News report from Berlin, Germany, chronicled the efforts of members opening their homes and the experiences of Ukrainian refugees seeking shelter and peace.
Working closely with Church area leadership out of Frankfurt, the members organized efforts to connect with and minister to Ukrainian members, in addition to others fleeing Ukraine who are not Latter-day Saints.
14. Shoes, suture kits and welcome bags
Donated shoes in the Netherlands. Suture sets and medical kits from Switzerland. And welcome bags crafted in the United Kingdom. That and more were among the latest efforts of good works by members and congregations of the Church in Europe chronicled in a report on April 25, 2022.
The Church had authorized special funds to be used locally by each stake across the Europe North and Europe Central areas for support of Ukrainian refugees.
Latest refugee efforts in Europe: Shoes in Netherlands, suture kits in Switzerland, welcome bags in the United Kingdom
15. A meetinghouse waystation
Delivering relief supplies into eastern Ukraine repeated for several months, Kym Reichart and Raphaela Hasse of Schwabmüchen, Germany, traveled the 14-hour distance from southern Germany, through the Czech Republic and Poland and into Lviv, where a meetinghouse there became not only a collection point for supplies but has transformed into a critical waystation for refugees leaving Ukraine.
That meetinghouse — located an hour’s drive further for Reichart and Hasse once they’ve reached Lviv — serves as a gathering place where refugees “can draw strength before they continue to the border, as most refugees only stay two or three nights,” Reichart said.
Why 2 women drive 14 hours to deliver aid to a Ukrainian meetinghouse transformed into a refugee waystation
16. Packed ‘Candy Bomber’ plane
Thousands of pounds of supplies like diapers, baby wipes and school supplies — together with candy and handwritten notes — landed in Berlin, Germany, in April, 2022, and from there went to Ukraine in an effort named “Operation Little Vittles Two.”
Volunteers drew on the example and legacy of the late Col. Gail. S. Halvorsen, a U.S. Air Force pilot and member of the Church affectionately known as the “Candy Bomber” for his efforts during the Berlin Airlift after World War II.
17. Finding refuge in Poland homes
Latter-day Saints in Poland continued to host Ukrainian families in their homes through May 2022. The Bovt family needed somewhere to stay after traveling 500 miles — and arriving at the Jarvises’ door at 1 a.m.
“At first, it was just a matter of making sure you guys were fed and sheltered and helping out as much as we could,” RaeAnn Jarvis said while sitting next to the Bovts in her home. “But over time it’s turned into something more — a genuine love and concern for you guys.”
18. 900 tons of food and supplies
In June 2022, a report outlined how more than 1,000 pallets of food were delivered to be distributed to people in Ukraine during an eight-week period as part of an emergency relief project.
Combined with earlier relief efforts, the Church and its members at that point had donated more than 900 tons of food and other supplies.
19. Serving Ukrainians in Canada
Displaced Ukrainian refugees found open arms and generous hearts in western Canada — specifically, the province of Alberta, explained a report on July 6, 2022.
Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population, after Ukraine and Russia. As such, refugee response was swift and extensive throughout Alberta, coming not only from major cities such as Calgary and Edmonton but smaller cities ranging from Red Deer to Grande Prairie.
20. Elder Cook makes a promise to Ukrainian Latter-day Saints
Exactly 200 days after armed conflict erupted in Eastern Europe, Elder Quentin L. Cook promised Ukrainian Latter-day Saints that for those completely focused on the Savior, Jesus Christ, a brighter day will come.
“We are aware of the incredible challenges you are facing,” said Elder Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in a meeting originating in Riga, Latvia.
Elder Cook addresses Ukrainian Latter-day Saints: ‘We are aware of the incredible challenges you are facing’
21. Teens lead interfaith JustServe effort in Arizona
Sabrina Stewart and Sarah Connell organized a yard sale to raise money for Ukrainian refugees, reported the Church News in October 2022.
“Sarah and Sabrina are great examples of taking action on a desire to do good,” Mesa Arizona Mountain View Stake President Sean Glenn said. “Their efforts did more than help Ukrainian refugees; they brought together neighbors from different faiths and unified our community through Christlike service.”
22. Elder and Sister Holland meet with Ukrainian refugees in Germany
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered tender apostolic encouragement to refugees who fled Ukraine for Germany. “Things are going to be all right,” he said on Nov. 6, 2022, in Hannover. “God is in charge. The best thing all of us can do is to be true to our own covenants.”
Then he added a powerful promise. “The prayers of a righteous few can change the course of history for a whole country.”
23. Idaho interfaith effort sends winter clothing, supplies to Ukraine
A three-day humanitarian drive in Twin Falls, Idaho, in November 2022 gathered thousands of pounds of donated goods for the people of Ukraine. And it also created new friendships and strengthened JustServe connections around the community.
Rob Sturgill of the Kimberly Idaho Stake runs a charity called Type of Wood, which has helped in Africa, the Philippines and Ukraine in the past. He put out the call for donations for Ukraine in early November and the community responded.
24. Emotional health seminars
Beginning in December 2022 and continuing through January 2023, Ukrainians living in the country or elsewhere as refugees tuned in online to hear presentations from professionals about emotional health and well-being.
Requested by Church leaders in Ukraine and coordinated through the Family Services office in the Europe Central Area, the 90-minute sessions focused on things like grief, trauma, challenges and ministering.