Refugees and immigrants search for items donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Bountiful Orchard Stake at an event on October 23. (Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)
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MIDVALE – A community event Saturday helped Utah immigrant and refugee families find the things they need, including clothes, dishes, appliances and furniture.
Members of the Bountiful Orchard Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints coordinated with a community group and other churches and donated thousands of items, enough to fill a cultural hall in Midvale .
Estefania Romero arrived in the United States two months ago, leaving a bad situation in Venezuela. She said she was able to find a lot of things her family needed.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to be in this country,” Romero said on Saturday, and “I am grateful for the help I have received from the church.”
The stake worked with Annette Miller, the founder of UnityinCommunity. She organized the event and helped connect the stake with people in need of help, although most who came heard about the event through word of mouth.
“There aren’t a lot of things like this particular event, because not only did they donate money, but they also donated new items… people went to great lengths to provide stuff and think it over. to things these families would need in their homes, ”Miller said.
Jackie Skinner has come to help an Afghan refugee family who are staying with her find the things they need. She said they arrived at her house two weeks ago with only a few small bags and purses. She said the experience of helping the family has been “wild but beautiful”. She communicates with the family through charades and sometimes by making phone calls to people who can help translate. She said there are so many refugees arriving right now that typical aid systems are unable to support them.
“That’s why it makes sense, because so many people are coming together to just offer their support and love our new friends dearly, and that’s just great,” Skinner said.
Skinner said the women at the event asked the family if there was anything else they needed, and the girl, who was a professional tailor, said she needed a sewing machine. sewing to make her mother’s clothes, there were none there but the volunteers said they could find one for her, and also said they would try to find them a vacuum cleaner and laptops.
Chad Gardner and his wife Susie are part of the Davis Communications Council with their involvement in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The responsibility of the council is to bring together people of different faiths to do service. As part of this mission, along with members of their stake and associates from other churches, they hosted this event last month.
“We announced that we were doing this project and we needed help and it was just overwhelming. Literally, this is all done by a small community, a stake,” Gardner said.
Gardner said they were expecting more than 100 Afghan families, but there were so many who showed up that there is no way of knowing how many people and families the stake has helped with its donations. He said when the building opened for the event at 9 a.m. there was a line up on the street with hundreds of people.
“It was literally like kids on Christmas morning,” Gardner said.
He also helped deliver the items to homes and said a family was almost in tears because of his gratitude when he helped deliver a bed for them.
Gardner also said it was amazing to see refugees coming to help out too, many former refugees were at church to help organize articles, translate and help people find what they need.
Norbelys Moreno, who came to the United States from Venezuela to seek political asylum, and her 10-year-old son Carlos Moreno were both present at the event to provide assistance. She said that recently more and more people from Venezuela have come to the United States and sometimes they come with nothing because even their clothes are taken during the immigration process. She spent time sorting clothes for babies and women.
Carlos Moreno helped sort and move piles of clothes and toys, he said he would do whatever he was asked to do to help, and that he just wanted to help people who needed it.
“I have the impression that everyone is happy today and that we are doing their day,” said Carlos Moreno.
Susie Gardner said she was eager to show photos of the event to those in the stake who contributed, to show them how much their donations meant. She said they were worried when they started receiving donations that there would be too much, because there were so many generous donations.
“It’s just amazing, everyone is coming together to help people who need everything,” said Susie Gardner.
Chad Gardner said there were pastors for a few churches who said they would like to pick up any items that are not taken for distribution to others in need, and any additional items left over after that. will be donated to Deseret Industries.