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Almost exactly one year ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on refugees. At the time, none of us could have imagined how crazy the world would become. Over this last year, I have found myself going into survival mode quite often and forgetting to turn outwards and take care of our brothers and sisters in need. This holiday season, I want to reach out and serve these incredible people. Here are 5 ways to serve refugees this holiday season!
In case you missed it, here is the statement released by the Church last year:
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are deeply committed to living the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor. We feel tremendous joy in helping all of God’s children, no matter where they may live in this world.
It is therefore with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of more than 70 million people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, or religious persecution.
We encourage Church members and friends to respond appropriately and legally, to help create welcoming communities by volunteering their time, talents and friendship to individuals and families who are integrating into our societies.
How can I volunteer my time, talents, and friendship to serve refugees? COVID-19 makes this task even more difficult than usual. However, I know God wouldn’t ask us to do the impossible.
The first step in serving the refugees in your community (or country) is to do some research! Look up organizations, talk with others, and find what suits you the best. There is never a “one size fits all” option when it comes to service. Do your research!
For example, I live in Utah County, Utah. I did a quick Google search for “refugees in Utah County” and found utahvalleyrefugees.org! I learned that my state welcomes over 600 refugees each year. On their website, I was able to see upcoming events, an application to host a family, how to volunteer, and donations they are in need of. I found all of this without leaving my couch!
2. Thrift Stores
The majority of refugees buy their clothing, furniture, appliances, and other necessities from local thrift stores! You can be a huge help to them by going through your closet and donating anything you haven’t used in a while. Not only will you be a huge help to refugees, but you’ll be cleaning up your own place too! It’s a win for everyone.
This time of year is a very popular time to purchase new appliances because of Black Friday and Christmas sales. If you do find yourself acquiring a new toaster or washer this year, why not donate your old one? There are people out there (refugees or not) that could be extremely blessed by this.
3. Make a Friend
One of the greatest ways we can serve our refugee neighbors is to become friends with them. It can be extremely hard to make friends and become part of a community when you first move. I can’t imagine pairing that with a new country and culture.
Perhaps you already know of someone that just moved into your ward or neighborhood! Maybe there’s a new student at school or a new employee at your place of employment. Introduce yourself! If this doesn’t apply to you, though, do some more research. There’s a good chance there are activities/events coming up that will allow you to make a new friend.
Non-profit organizations like the ones that help provide aid for refugees rely heavily on donations. Possibly the easiest way you can lend a hand is by donating money to the cause. However, that isn’t easy for everyone.
You can also donate goods like food and toiletries. Check out your local organization to see what they need most. These necessities are things I often find myself taking for granted. Another thing you can donate is time. These organizations need volunteers for many different activities. See how you can lend a hand!
Life can get busy and everyone is in a different situation. Heavenly Father knows you and the ways that you can be the most helpful. Offer up a prayer and listen closely to promptings. He will guide you!
As you pray for ways that you can help, pray for our brothers and sisters as well. Refugees are going through a lot of difficulties and could definitely use prayers right now. This is an extremely simple way to serve anyone. As we pray for others, our love and desire to serve them will increase!
We would love to hear how you plan to serve refugees during COVID-19! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.