On September 21, 2018, several tornadoes struck the Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec areas. Once again, volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined hands with other community groups to reach out to those in need.
In getting things started, the Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, and Latter-day Saints representatives met at the bishops’ storehouse and picked up supplies to relieve families in need.
To keep things orderly, local Church leaders waited for approval from the civil authorities before broadcasting detailed instructions of their emergency plan to all Church members willing to help. Church leaders used all communication means, including social media, to instruct volunteers of the time, location and items to bring — work clothes and specific tools.
Over 130 Latter-day Saints rolled up their sleeves and helped with clean-up efforts in Dunrobin, Ontario. Bishop Graham of Gatineau and Bishop Thompson of Ottawa, along with the Ottawa Ontario Stake presidency and many others at the ward and stake level contributed greatly to the relief efforts.
Twelve properties were cleaned up and five busloads of supplies were unloaded at the West Carleton Secondary School. Many others helped in additional ways, such as by donating goods and funds.
The Governor General Julie Payette and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson personally thanked the volunteers.
“There are no words to describe how grateful we are. Thank you and God bless,” wrote one of the homeowners in Dunrobin in response to the volunteers who helped with relief and clean-up efforts after the Ottawa storm.
To give relief to families of Gatineau, Quebec, local Church leaders called on the bishops’ storehouse in Toronto to provide needed items. Numerous apartment buildings housing young families were located in the damaged area, so a call for supplies such as diapers was put out. The Toronto bishops’ storehouse answered that call by making the largest single donation to the Gatineau efforts.
Elder Jimmy and Sister Nancy Levoie, senior missionaries serving at the Toronto bishops’ storehouse, were able to turn around the substantial order for the Ottawa hurricane victims in 24 hours.
“News of the hurricanes in Ottawa was quite a surprise,” said Elder Levoie. “We have a supportive volunteer staff and drivers, so with everyone’s help, we were happy to get the order on its way. It is our calling to serve those in need.”
In a recent interview, Bishop Gerald Caussé, the presiding bishop of the Church, explained changes the Church is making to more effectively help those in need.
He said, “In the next several years we anticipate increasing food donations to community charities by more than 20 million pounds annually” (“Church Finding Ways to Increase Assistance to Those in Need”).
Service is an important part of the identity of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Donating labour and sharing food with people in need is one of the ways Church members apply Jesus’s commandment to “love one another” (John 13:34).