Labor Day Weekend of 2016 literally was a weekend of labor for 25 local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), who were among more than 1,000 volunteers from the Greater Atlanta area donating their time to help victims of the flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While in Louisiana, the volunteers were grouped into teams of 8-12. Each team helped between 2-4 families whose homes were devastated by the unexpected floods that hit the area in early August. Pausing only for a 7:30 a.m. church worship service on Sunday, volunteers worked both Saturday and Sunday, driving back to Carroll County on Monday.
Planning for the weekend of service began about 2 weeks before Labor Day, when the call went out from local leaders of the LDS church asking for volunteers. The number of people who volunteered more than doubled the initial goal.
Jason Mount, local leader of the Carrollton Ward (congregation) said “I was impressed with how many people in our congregation were willing to forgo their holiday weekend plans to help their fellowman across the country. It is heartwarming to see that quality of compassion.”
Volunteers camped out in tent cities over the long Labor Day weekend, spending Friday on the road to Louisiana, working long days on Saturday and Sunday, helping families tear out sheet rock and clear damaged belongings from their homes, and then spent Monday returning to the Atlanta area.
Flooded homes generally must be stripped of all property in the damaged area of the house, primarily involving removal of debris, furniture and other belongings, and then stripping out drywall, cabinetry, wood floors, and other components of homes so owners can start to rebuild. Thousands in the Baton Rouge area have lost everything but the basic structure of their home.
Kristy Kimball and her husband Randy traveled with their children to help the flood victims. She shared this about her experience, “There are many families who haven't been able to go in their homes because of the mold. It's been an amazing reality check for us all. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to help them.”
Although this is the first weekend that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Carrollton have made the trek to Baton Rouge to assist in disaster relief in Louisiana, it is the third weekend that volunteers donning the familiar yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts could be seen throughout the Louisiana flood areas. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized a relief effort, with a goal of maintaining 2,000 volunteers per weekend in the affected area. The actual number of volunteers doubled, then tripled, with each succeeding weekend. The Kimballs were among 6,696 Mormon Helping Hands Volunteers giving 108,249 hours of service between August 29 – September 4.Jon Anderson, who oversees 10 LDS congregations in the West Georgia area said “It was a blessing to see both young and old helping with these relief efforts. Those who had lost everything were grateful for the aid and we were blessed to be a part of it.”