Members from Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Huntingdon participated in a ‘Mormon Helping Hands project to bring relief to refugees living in Calais in increasingly desperate conditions. Some 300 members of the Church, along with their friends of other faiths, rallied on Thursday 7 January to package the food and winter items. David Mackintosh, Member of Parliament for Northampton South, who met the volunteers at the packing evening, commented, “I’m very pleased to be able to see this commendable work, which I know is something you do regularly every time you are asked to support other people”, commented Mr. Mackintosh.
Church members, along with local schools, preschools and businesses, spent three weeks gathering donations requested by partner charity Care4Calais to pack food parcels and winter care packs. Among the items collected were 8400 fruit tea bags, 1680 tins of kidney beans, 840 cartons of fruit juice, and hundreds of hats, scarves and gloves.
Four hundred and fifty-three food boxes were packed within three hours, and will provide 5436 much needed meals for those living in the refugee camp.
he boxes were loaded into four vans and a 7.5 tonne truck and driven, along with 47 volunteers from the Church and their friends, to Calais early the next morning.
The volunteers spent Friday 8 and Saturday 9 January engaged in service in Calais. Some helped sort donations in the Care4Calais warehouse, others helped distribute the food boxes to six different areas of the refugee camp. Volunteers with building skills built shelters, a paediatrician saw patients in a makeshift medical clinic and the young men and young women assisted in a large scale clean-up of the camp.
Traci De Marco, women’s organisation leader remarked, “During this project, I have worked with the most amazing, obliging members as we have tried to make a difference in the lives of others who have so very little, when we have so much. The generosity has been staggering, of money, time and effort.”
A friend of the Church, who helped pack food boxes and travelled to Calais to volunteer said afterwards, “As a non-religious person, it warms my heart to know that there are so many good people in the world who will go the extra mile to help others. It is reassuring to know that in the darkness there are good people like yourselves.”