SALT LAKE CITY — While many worldwide deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is assisting those recovering from a devastating brushfire on an island off the coast of South Australia.

The Kangaroo Island “Ravine” fire, in one of the areas hardest hit by major brushfires in Australia in recent months, was first reported on Dec. 30, 2019. It burned for several weeks, destroying half the island’s land mass (thousands of acres). It consumed 65 homes, properties, buildings and a national park. It claimed two lives.

On March 14, a group of local Latter-day Saint church leaders, led by Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy and president of the church’s Pacific Area, visited Kangaroo Island and presented 100 gift wallets containing vouchers valued at $100 to be spent at local businesses. The wallets also came with self-help ideas and heartwarming messages of support from missionaries serving in the Adelaide Australia Mission, according to a church statement.

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Additionally, the church donated four trailers of supplies to a local nonprofit organization for repairing rural fencing damaged in the blaze.

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Farming families on the island have already received 10 semitrailer loads of hay and water from the church.

The group of church leaders also visited families and properties impacted by the fire. Elder Ardern was moved by the resilience of the families and their ability to rebound after the devastating effects of the fire, the statement said.

“When we reach out as a church and make donations to people who have experienced the woes of life, we’re demonstrating our love for our neighbor,” he said in the video.

Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly expressed appreciation for the donations and said they would have a “major positive impact” on the community, the statement said.

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