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Like other Americans, many Utahns feel helpless as they watch thousands of Syrian refugees pour into Europe, fleeing war and devastation back home.

Sure, there are formal institutions in the Beehive State created exclusively to aid refugees — Utah Refugee Center, International Rescue Committee, the Asian Association of Utah — as well as assistance programs sponsored by various faith groups.

But, they wonder, how can one person make a difference?

Now Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has some 40 suggestions for how individuals can make life better for the refugees in their midst.

Among her recommendations, listed recently on a Mormon Channel blog:

"Be a sincere friend.

"Reach out to people on the periphery.

"Take a stand against intolerance.

"Promote compassion and understanding.

"Get to know firsthand what is really needed; don't assume.

"Learn about the food, holidays and traditions of others.

"Share a meal.

"Celebrate a holiday together.

"Invite someone to join your family night.

"Teach a new skill.

"Learn a new skill.

"Exchange ideas and experiences.

"Highlight strengths in other cultures.

"Speak to your town council about needed services.

"Forgive offenses or misunderstandings and try again.

"Shop at locally owned businesses.

"Welcome new people to the neighborhood.

"Volunteer to teach a language.

"Defend others from bigotry.

"Offer employment to someone unexpected.

"Extend an invitation to a cultural event.

"Offer to baby-sit.

"Practice interviewing for a job.

"Donate household goods.

"Act as a grandma or grandpa to someone whose family is far away.

"Volunteer with a local organization whose work you admire.

Be a mentor.

"Find local solutions rather than relying on bureaucratic programs or funds."

In addition to individual efforts, Eubank understands well the value of institutional assistance.

In 2014, her department, which oversees charitable giving for the Utah-based LDS Church, has:

• Responded to 132 disasters of one kind or another in 60 nations, including a major typhoon in the Philippines, a destructive cyclone in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

• Offered extensive refugee assistance for Syria and Iraq.

• Provided wheelchairs in 48 countries, maternal and newborn care in 42, vision care in 34, clean water and sanitation projects in 26, gardening projects in 17, and medical immunizations in nine nations.

"There's so much work that has to be done," Eubank told British parliamentarians in June, "there's so much suffering that it isn't possible for any one organization to do it."

Peggy Fletcher Stack