Damaged cars, collapsed houses, piles of sand half-a-story high. The devastation of Hurricane Sandy is on display all throughout the Rockaways, a thin peninsula belonging to the New York City borough of Queens.
Fortunately, so are the efforts of thousands of good-hearted volunteers who’ve descended on the community by train, bus, car and foot. Many of these volunteers are part of Mormon Helping Hands, a community service program that mobilizes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their neighbors to provide community service to areas in need.
In an eight-minute video posted yesterday, filmmaker Joshua Brown documents the ways in which Helping Hands is giving residents of the Rockaways a hand during a period of acute pain and frustration. The video is featured on the Washington Post’s Under God blog and has already received more than 10,000 “likes” on Facebook.
The Post's blog quotes Michael Otterson, head of church public affairs, as saying, “neither the video nor the effort was coordinated by the national church, but the effort represents the way wards and stakes may choose to provide assistance.”
According to the New York Daily News, Helping Hands has won “rave reviews” from the Rockaways community. Islamic and Catholic charities as well as other volunteer organizations have also joined the effort and have been able to deliver food and supplies to residents faster than government agencies.
“They came in with droves and droves of people,” resident Randy Nelson said. “They were really incredible.”
David Ward is a writer living in Salt Lake City. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.