First Presidency Expresses Gratitude for Humanitarian Outreach

First Presidency Expresses Gratitude for Humanitarian Outreach

News Release

In this season of Thanksgiving, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expressing gratitude for unprecedented donations and volunteer service by members and friends of the Church in response to the many humanitarian needs around the world.

 

“We live in a time of overwhelming need,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, in a video released by the Church this week. “Due to no fault of their own, millions of our Father in Heaven’s children find themselves in unimaginable situations as they deal with the tragic effects of war, famine, natural disasters and economic difficulties. But in the midst of this suffering, people throughout the world have rallied to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters.”

“The Church is really not so much about an organization; the Church is much more about you, about every individual member,” expressed President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. “That makes all of the difference. Your work, your service, your love, your kindness to God and your fellowman is a reflection of what the Church is all about.”

The Church has responded to these natural disasters through its welfare and humanitarian programs and its global partners. LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, operates under the direction of the Office of the Presiding Bishopric and First Presidency.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, our hearts are to help everyone. Everyone around the world are our brothers and sisters, yet LDS Charities cannot be in every area in the world. This is the best way to help in those areas of the world,” explained Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president.

“We feel tremendously grateful for the generosity of members and friends of the Church,” stated Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, who noted that in September, volunteers donated over 1 million hours of service in the U.S. alone.

Donations to the Humanitarian Aid Fund in September were more than four times the monthly average. Such donations enable the Church and its partners to respond quickly and efficiently to disasters throughout the world. One hundred percent of the donations, both large and small, are used to help people in need.

“Working with well-known and respected global partners, we’ve provided extensive relief to victims of famine in Africa, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in California, and hurricanes in the Caribbean and southern United States,” explained Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

“The tremendous work that the Church does from a humanitarian standpoint would really be impossible without the assistance of many other organizations,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, who explained that those organizations are both domestic and international.

A Global Humanitarian Response

The Church responded with aid to survivors of an August mudslide in Sierra Leone, which reportedly killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands more homeless. LDS Charities and local Latter-day Saints worked with community leaders to deliver mattresses, food, water and other life-sustaining supplies to more than 100 families.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season produced one of the most active on record, with catastrophic results. The category 4 Hurricane Harvey hit landfall August 25. Nearly 200,000 homes were damaged by record flooding in the Houston area. In the following days, President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency and other leaders met with members and their neighbors in flood-ravaged areas of Houston offering words of comfort and support.

In mid-September, Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other leaders visited Houston. They also provided encouragement to the thousands of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers who helped residents impacted by the hurricane.

While residents in Texas were cleaning up, Hurricane Irma was moving through the Caribbean and headed toward Florida. It caused more than 100 deaths and catastrophic damage.

In subsequent weeks, more than 65 truckloads of food, water, hygiene and cleaning kits and cleanup equipment including generators, chainsaws, wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes were sent to Texas and Florida.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, President Eyring traveled to the Caribbean and Florida in mid-September to meet with government officials and minister to local Latter-day Saints and their neighbors. He was joined by Bishop Davies and other Church leaders.

Following Hurricane Irma, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a category 4 hurricane on September 20, the strongest storm in 85 years.

The Church mobilized humanitarian resources to help those impacted. The Caribbean received 35 truckloads of life-sustaining supplies shipped in containers to the region plus four truckloads that were flown on emergency charter flights to Puerto Rico.

Also in September, the Church distributed life-sustaining supplies such as food and water as well as tents, hygiene kits and other necessities to earthquake survivors of two major temblors that struck within days of each other in Oaxaca and Chiapas in southern Mexico and Mexico City. Dozens of buildings collapsed in both regions. At least 369 people perished, leaving thousands more injured.

And in October, wildfires scorched entire city blocks in California’s Napa Valley. At least 43 people died and more than 8,900 structures, mostly homes and businesses, were destroyed. It will likely take years to recover.

The Church sent two truckloads of food to help the Salvation Army and a local food bank. It also provided cleaning and hygiene supplies and offered Church buildings as shelters to assist with the wildfire relief efforts. In addition, Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, gave words of comfort and encouragement to fire survivors during their visit to the area.

Elsewhere, the Church donated $11 million in assistance to famine victims in eight African countries and the Middle East. The humanitarian effort will aid troubled parts of the world experiencing drought, civil conflict, disease and other challenges. LDS Charities is partnering with 11 global relief organizations to support 25 projects in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Niger, Kenya, Uganda and DR Congo.

The Church is also joining with other community organizations to help the homeless in the Salt Lake Valley. A $10 million donation will assist in the construction and development of additional housing.

In addition to emergency response, LDS Charities provides help worldwide through five ongoing initiatives: wheelchairs, clean water, food programs, vision care, maternal and newborn care and immunizations. These services have saved thousands of lives and improved the quality of life for thousands more.

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “I’m deeply grateful that as a Church we continue to extend humanitarian aid where there is great need. We have done much in this regard and have blessed the lives of thousands upon thousands of our Father’s children who are not of our faith, as well as those who are. We intend to continue to help wherever such is needed. We express gratitude to you for your contributions in this regard.”

For more information on the Church’s humanitarian efforts, visit the LDS Charities website.

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