Upon news breaking of another temple under construction in Utah, many detractors flocked to the comment section on Facebook to speak ill of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many discounting the humanitarian aid efforts of the Church. Here is just a sampling of what was said:
“Maybe instead of building more temples we don’t need, they could build decent housing for the homeless, or make sure there are no children going to bed hungry by donating that money to the school system, for meals, supplies and towards teachers salaries. I could go on and on, but what a waste of money that could actually help the needy and save lives.” – Patty G.
Examples of Humanitarian Aid
As nonprofit organizations and faith-based groups in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia work to serve their communities, they are finding out they can be stronger together as they collaborate and share resources.
On September 29, a diverse group of these community organizations gathered in one spot for the inaugural “Community Connect and Serve,” hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Representatives of nearly 40 nonprofit groups from Clarke and Frederick Counties and the city of Winchester set up booths in the Winchester Virginia Stake center and shared information with each other and with the public.
The collaboration was sponsored by JustServe — a website and app where community groups can list their volunteer needs — Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley, Valley Health, and the Nonprofit Alliance of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
For the first two hours, exhibitors were able to connect and share best practices with each other before opening the doors to the public. This was helpful for Jeffrey Stern, director of community engagement at Sinclair Health Clinic.
“It was terrific. I enjoyed the opportunity to network with organizations I know well, and those I didn’t know before,” Stern said.
Valley Health’s director of community health, Jason Craig, also spoke about the collaboration and connections made from the inaugural effort.
“This was a wonderful event that was successful through the collaboration of a community that cares about the people that live in it,” Craig said. “Organizations were able to connect, many expressing that they learned about their friends and allies in the community, and the JustServe volunteer network came out to learn and align their desire to serve.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Memphis’s 38126 ZIP code to announce the launch of MyBaby4Me — a program with classes to help new and expectant mothers.
“This partnership is God ordained and God inspired,” said NAACP Memphis Branch President Van Turner. “I’m just so happy that it’s happening at such a critical time in our city. We’re dealing with public safety, we’re dealing with homelessness, we’re dealing with poverty. [It’s critical to address] the origin of humanity, when these young people are in the womb, and try to make sure they get the proper care while in the womb [and then] come out and survive and be healthy. Once that happens, they have a great start in life. That solves and resolves those other issues. So, I’m so happy to be partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all our other partners because this is really a great endeavor.”
This is the second humanitarian collaboration between the NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ since Prophet and President Russell M. Nelson in 2021 pledged US$2 million a year for three years to fund these projects. The inaugural undertaking last month focused on improving a community farm in San Francisco.
On Saturday, November 19, 2022, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated 3,000 frozen turkeys and 40 tons of nonperishable food in the Boston area. With the help of Catholic Charities Boston and the Azusa Christian Community, the food was delivered to those who need it most this Thanksgiving.
Three semitrucks of food from the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City arrived in Boston on that Saturday. A thousand turkeys were delivered to Catholic Charities Boston to help them in their distribution of 1,400 Thanksgiving meals to households in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. The Church has given several truckloads of food to Catholic Charities Boston this year.
The other 2,000 turkeys, along with the 40 tons of food, were unloaded at a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Newton, Massachusetts. About 400 volunteers spent their Saturday unloading the food and repackaging it into 2,000 food kits. Members of the Azusa Christian Community — a nonprofit run by the Rev. Eugene Rivers and his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Rivers — picked up the repackaged provisions and distributed them to those in need in Boston, Malden and Springfield.
The infant mortality rate for babies born to African American women in the United States is more than twice that of infants born to white mothers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Native American and Pacific Islander communities face comparable circumstances.
As part of an effort to address maternal health issues in vulnerable communities, Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson recently ministered to new and expectant mothers during a citywide baby shower in Chicago, Illinois.
About 400 mothers attended the Chicago Citywide Community Baby Shower on Saturday, Nov. 5, held at the Imani Village community center on the city’s South Side.
The baby shower was organized by Hustle Mommies and the Urban Mom Collective in collaboration with the Rev. Dr. Que English, director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mothers who attended were connected with local community and government resources — including prenatal care and mental health services — and learned about self-care during and after childbirth and support services offered by doulas and midwives. They received diapers, baby strollers, clothing, baby bottles, car seats and other essentials donated by the Church. Heidi Murkoff, author and creator of the What to Expect Project, also attended.
“These opportunities to work with our friends in government and community are so important for us to touch the lives of [individuals],” President Johnson said. “We look at things globally, but we must also look at the needs of the one. Today was a sweet opportunity to minister one by one.”
LaShawn Thomas, an expectant mother, described the community baby shower as a blessing. “I saw it [advertised on social media], and it was last minute, but it was amazing. I came and I had nothing, but I have so much now. I think it’s great for us expectant mothers to look forward to something.”
The Church is supporting similar efforts in other U.S. cities. For example, in New York City, the Church is providing funding to train doulas for mothers in vulnerable communities.
In collaboration with the Rwanda Biomedical Center and National Council of People with Disability (NCPD), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints closed a 4-day wheelchair delivery and training event on 20 October 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.
The objective was to train local physiotherapists on how to assess people with disabilities to match them with the most suitable wheelchairs and other assistive devices (crutches, white canes). The hospital technicians were also trained in assembling wheelchairs and repair of damaged wheelchairs. The total project cost was approximately $400,000.
Executive Secretary of NCPD Emmanuel Ndayisaba said, “The Latter-day Saints have given us wheelchairs of the finest quality and have vowed to supply enough for our people in need. They have showed us a heart of generosity.”
In its ongoing efforts to help provide shelter and services for Utah’s homeless, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided $3.3 million in donations to assist five Utah-based nonprofit organizations.
Laurie G. Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless, expressed appreciation for the partnership in serving the community’s most vulnerable.
“This donation will aid us with winter temporary housing efforts to provide the unsheltered a warm bed and will also fund ongoing operations of the homeless resource centers, specifically to ensure the health, safety, and security of the staff, guests, and the surrounding community,” she said.
In only a few hours, the group installed an irrigation system at the Florence Fang Community Farm. This system will help the growing farm, now in its eighth year, continue to provide fresh food to a diverse and underserved community that inhabits a food desert. Importantly, the farm can now do so in a water-wise way.
Jonathan Butler, the second vice president of the NAACP San Francisco Branch, said such service is critical to solve the “division and isolation that is happening in our communities that is a detriment to our own health and well-being.”
“Love is the essence of what we’re doing,” Butler said. “We love ourselves, and then we love each other. And that is under the umbrella of loving God.”
About 12,000 people in the war-ravaged region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will receive food and other critical supplies thanks to a donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church collaborated with humanitarian organization Women of Faith to purchase emergency supplies worth about US$300,000 and distribute them to families and individuals affected by the conflict in the eastern region of the DRC this year.
General Ekenge, the advisor to the governor in charge of humanitarian actions said, “We welcome this act of solidarity done by Women of Faith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in this difficult period of war in this part of DRC.
“There is no greater gesture of love than to think of those who are suffering. The national and provincial governments are fighting day and night to do everything possible to bring this war to an end. We thank the organization and its donor. We ask other people of goodwill to think of the displaced persons who are still suffering in different locations.”
Uwamahoro Florence, one of the older adults who received assistance through this project, said, “Eight months after my displacement from my village (Jomba), my family and I were not able to feed ourselves properly due to lack of resources. We thank the Women of Faith organization and its donor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have come to help us with food. May our God bless them. The aid we received enabled us to respond to our basic needs, including food and non-food items.”
Uwimana Biraro Josephine said, “It was difficult for my three children and I to find what to eat, but the assistance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Women of Faith have given us back a smile and hope that we lost for a while.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made significant donations to five Family Health Centers (CESFAMs) in Chile. These donations, consisting of diagnostic and treatment equipment, will improve the primary care provided by these municipal health centers.
Additionally, Church members are answering calls for disaster assistance through a crisis cleanup hotline. In just the last week, 750 Latter-day Saints answered more than 13,000 calls.
“It’s exciting and it’s emotional,” said Penny Taylor, Collier County District 4 commissioner, during a visit to the command center in Naples on Saturday, October 8. “You’re here to help us. It’s that human touch that is so needed right now.”
When the Church gave $32 million to the United Nations World Food Programme on September 14, it marked the faith’s largest one-time contribution to a humanitarian organization to date.
The donation — presented by Bishop L. Todd Budge, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, in Rome, Italy — will help provide food and critical assistance to 1.6 million people facing food crises in nine countries.
On September 21, the Church announced a $5 million donation to UNICEF to help fight global malnutrition among children under age 5 in up to 24 countries.
These two recent donations carry on a decades-old priority of the Church to care for those in need, including nearly $1 billion in donations in the year 2021 alone.
In 2021, the Church and its members took part in 3,909 humanitarian projects in 188 countries, with 6.8 million hours of volunteer work.
Since November 2020, the Church of Jesus Christ has donated some 1 million pounds of food to the Black 14 Philanthropy.
Since November 2020, the Church of Jesus Christ has donated some 1 million pounds of food to the Black 14 Philanthropy. Food has gone to Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming.
“This [moment] is an extraordinary snapshot in time for entities that were miles apart and now there’s nothing between us but good,” John Griffin said. “That’s what is important to me. … We have more time behind us than we have left in front of us. We’re trying to do the best we can for the time we have remaining, whatever that is. And that’s why we’re in this relationship together [with the Church].”
Church responds to Hurricane Fiona’s devastation in the Caribbean, $475K approved to aid 65,000 affected families in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
The humanitarian services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have activated a series of actions to help authorities and community organizations cope with the situation and mitigate the damage caused by this natural phenomenon.
Help has been provided to aid about 65,000 affected families on the French island of Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The aid seeks to provide food, water, hygiene items and other emergency supplies, as well as human assistance through Helping Hands volunteers, through which cleaning and debris removal will be carried out, as well as the distribution of supplies. The Church will continue to provide additional relief and assistance.
In addition to its direct actions, the Church will provide support through organizations to 17 emotional resilience centers operated through the international Mercy Corps organization in Puerto Rico where water, food, and other essential emergency supplies will also be provided.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a US$5 million donation to UNICEF’s newly launched “No Time to Waste” global malnutrition campaign. The contribution will help malnourished children who are five years old and younger in up to 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Middle East and the Philippines.
Up to 41 million children currently suffering from malnutrition could be impacted in the first year of programming.
“This support represents a significant new stage of our partnership, building on nine years of impact for children and investments towards lifesaving programs. The time for action on child wasting is now, and together we won’t stop until every child is healthy,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA.
“We never had electricity. We used flashlights and kerosene lanterns. The generator was costing us $20 per day to fill up the gas to last for six hours,” Hutchinson-Lovell said. “Now that I can turn on the porch light, it keeps my kids safe at night when they come home late. It feels good.”
“It’s a small group and about 100 people affected — but are we our brother’s keeper? I think we are,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s one or two or a thousand or 29 homes. When we are here, we see the need, and that’s what we need to do.”
Tatan Sutam Dur’s left leg was amputated a year ago because of a circulation disease. The 42-year-old father of two children, who lives in a village in the Garut district, hasn’t been able to work.
He was one of about 500 people who received a prosthetic limb through a collaboration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation and Yayasan Peduli Tuna Daksa, which translates as Limb for the Limbless Center, in several places in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Church’s Indonesia Newsroom shared.
With his prosthetic leg, Dur can resume working as a carpenter.
“I am deeply grateful to everyone whose charity enabled me to receive this prosthetic limb,” Dur said when he received it in August.
In its largest one-time donation to a humanitarian organization to date, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave $32 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The donation will help provide food and critical assistance to 1.6 million people in nine countries.
“Private sector support is critical to our mission, enabling WFP to scale food assistance and resilience work that brings families stability and comfort during these challenging times,” World Food Program USA president and CEO Barron Segar said. “I am confident that the Church’s gift will inspire others to join our movement to end global hunger.”
Flood survivor Mary Sue Stacy in Dwarf, Kentucky, wrote of her gratitude for Helping Hands volunteers from Akron, Ohio, who went to her home.
“They cleaned up all the debris and destruction in my yard and parking area,” she said. “This wonderful group of people have given me inspiration to start again. My daughter and I are so very grateful for the kindness Helping Hands has shown us.”
The Church of Jesus Christ sent five semitruck loads of food and supplies within a week after the flooding. Latter-day Saint volunteers joined with local firefighters and members of the Kentucky National Guard to unload the trucks and begin the massive cleanup efforts in early August.
The deliveries included more than 85,000 bottles of water, more than 3,600 five-gallon plastic buckets of cleaning supplies, food for more than 10,500 meals and 600 pounds of clothing.
UNICEF is a United Nations agency focused on supporting the well-being of children and promoting the rights of children globally, and UNICEF USA promotes that mission.
Rachel Steinberg, the managing director for global cause partnerships at UNICEF USA, works with donors, supporters and partners like the Church of Jesus Christ and other faith-based organizations.
“One of the things that we have appreciated so much about our partnership with [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] is that they have come to us and said, ‘What are the forgotten crises that need attention and support?’” Steinberg said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is helping fund these efforts in Ghana. Megan Nykyforchyn-Clark, senior director of new business development with The Hunger Project, told the Church News about the collaboration.
“We are so thankful for the investment [of the Church] that encourages community members like Naomi and Patience to become more self-reliant,” she said. “We value this partnership and our shared approaches which invest in individuals and families’ dignity and ability to care for themselves and their households.”
Elder Soares presented a donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to support the educational needs and personal development of young women aged 11-18 years being cared for by Le Bon Pasteur (The Good Shepherd) shelter and children aged 3-11 years in the care of Te Maru Pererau shelter.
The North America Southeast Area facilitated a Church gift comprising of 3,800 hygiene kits for the athletes housed in university dormitories, 15,000 water bottles for athletes and coaches, and 25 large first aid kits for the venues.
“It’s no doubt that God was in the details,” The World Games community engagement and volunteer coordinator Kathy Boswell said.
Before the close of the 11-day competition, The World Games 2022 CEO Nick Sellers and Boswell met with Elder Millington and his wife, Kathleen; President Joel B. and Sister Rose K. Chibota of the Alabama Birmingham Mission; President Sadler and his wife, Tony; Norris; and Piennette to discuss the Church’s immense support and gracious gift.
“Seriously, said Sellers, “I cannot stress this enough, we could not have pulled this off without y’all.”
From helping refugees to clean-water projects, self-reliance courses and disaster relief, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members took part in 3,909 humanitarian projects in 188 countries in 2021, an increase from the previous year.
This outreach included $906 million from the Church and 6.8 million hours of volunteer work by everyday Latter-day Saints, according to the 2021 annual report of caring released on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.