Humanitarian Relief and Welfare
LDS Church humanitarian efforts, whether local, national, or international, primarily help those in need who are not members of the Church. This major endeavor is independent of the massive welfare program intended for struggling Church members and operated by local Church leaders.
We Worship God by Serving Others
“Pure religion” is helping the poor and needy. (James 1:27) We serve God by serving others. (Mosiah 2:18) When we have served the neediest, “we have done it unto Him.” (Matthew 25: 37-40)
The Lord declared that we should let our “light so shine,” that others may see our good works and glorify Him. (Matthew 5:16) By shining the light on Latter-day charity and humanitarian relief, we share our good works and glorify God. (Matthew 5:16)
For example, just in 2021 there were 6,800,000 hours volunteered, $900 million donated, 3,909 projects carried out, and 188 countries served. And that’s only what made the “official” list.
Importantly, 100% of donations are used directly for humanitarian relief. In some charities, most of the donations go to salaries, marketing, and logistics, and never reach the needy. “The LDS Church absorbs its overhead costs and utilizes a global network of volunteers [including “LDS Helping Hands“], who generously contribute their time and expertise.”
“Latter-day Saints do this because we know we are all children of God and brothers and sisters. Service is an integral part of our worship. We choose to serve.” (A. Wettstein)
Ongoing Humanitarian Projects
The LDS Church strives to provide immediate food, clean water, medicine, and shelter during major disasters. The Church has huge warehouses filled with prepackaged pallets of emergency supplies ready for immediate shipping. The Church also has leased cargo planes on standby. Sometimes, the LDS Church relief is the first on site. (Many well-meaning local groups gather emergency supplies, only to discover they do not have the means to ship the supplies to the destination.)
In 2012 alone, the LDS Church provided relief to people affected by 119 disasters in 58 countries.
The Church coordinates its emergency efforts with national governments, UNICEF, Red Cross, Catholic Charities, and other reputable charitable originations. For example, as of 2018, the church donated over $15 million to Red Cross emergency relief.
Between 1985 and 2018, the church provided $1.1 billion in monetary assistance, 61,00+ tons of food, 12,800+ tons of medical supplies, 84,000+ tons of clothing, 8.6 million kits for hygiene, newborns, and schools.
Here are a few of the major disasters the Church responded to. You may remember some of these. (I could not find a complete list)
Some Major Responses to Emergencies- since 1994
- 2022 – Ukraine War
- 2020 – U.S. Gulf Hurricanes
- 2016 – North Carolina Hurricane Matthew
- 2010 – Haiti earthquake
- 2009 – Samoan/Tongan earthquake
- 2009 – Philippines Typhoon
- 2008 – China earthquake
- 2008 – Ethiopia famine
- 2007 – Peru earthquake
- 2007 – California wildfires
- 2006 – Indonesia earthquake
- 2006 – Lebanon war relief
- 2005 – U.S. hurricanes Katrina and Rita
- 2005 – Pakistan earthquake
- 2004 – South Asia tsunami
- 2004 – Florida and Caribbean hurricanes
- 2003 – Africa floods and famine
- 2003 – Iraq and Liberia war relief
- 2002 – Europe and Chile flooding
- 2001 – El Salvador and Peru earthquakes
- 2002 – Afghanistan war relief
- 2000 – Mozambique and Brazil flooding,
- 2000 – Belize hurricane
- 1999 – Kosovo war relief
- 1998 – Central American hurricane
- 1997 – U.S. Midwest flooding
- 1997 – North Korea crop failure
- 1996 – Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia war relief
- 1995 – Japan earthquake
- 1994 – Rwanda war relief
An estimated 1 billion people suffer thirst and disease because they lack clean water. The Church, often using retired volunteer farmers and ranchers, assists communities in Third World countries in establishing wells, and water and sanitation systems to provide access to clean water. Over 7.5 million people now have access to clean water because of Church efforts from 2002 through 2010. In 2018 alone, this project served 657,500 people in 28 countries.
Maternal and Newborn Care Training
An estimated 1 million newborns die each year due to birth difficulties. Working with health organizations, the Church has sent thousands of volunteer doctors and nurses to teach neonatal resuscitation techniques, maternal care, and essential care for babies. In 2018 alone, the LDS church provided training to 53,800 people in 39 countries.
Over 300 million people worldwide struggle with low vision or blindness. The Church, using volunteer ophthalmologists and optometrists, provides training, equipment, and supplies to assist local eye care professionals and programs. In just 2018, the Church provided vision care to 401,548 people in 17 countries. Since 2003, 1 million people in 81 countries benefited from Church vision care projects.
Wheelchairs and Mobility Devises
An estimated 20 million people in the world need wheelchairs. These people must often crawl or be carried. The LDS Church provides wheelchairs designed for rough terrain, plus crutches, walkers, and canes. The wheelchair project has been ongoing at least since the 1970s. Since 2002, over 415,000 people have received one of these devices.
The LDS Church not only provides food, but also training and tools for improved home food production, nutrition training, and food storage and preparation techniques to help families become more self-reliant. The training is often provided by retired farmers and ranchers serving humanitarian missions in Third World countries. Since 2002, almost 40,000 people have been helped. From 1985 to 2009, $327 million in cash and $884 million in commodities of aid was given to 178 countries.
Every year, almost 2 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. The LDS Church provides support to international immunization campaigns for measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia, and other diseases. Between 2003 and 2012, the Church immunization program benefited over 100 million children in 36 countries. Around 59,000 local volunteers donated over 750,000 hours to spread awareness of these campaigns. During the COVID pandemic, the Church provided over $20 million to UNICEF to deliver vaccines.
Refugee Relief and Outreach
Thousands of refugees from war torn Africa and the Middle East have been settled in the U.S. In 2015, LDS Church leadership invited “Church units, families, and individuals to participate in local refugee relief projects.” Church volunteers in the U.S. have donated a plethora of hours, teaching English, working with government agencies, and filling out applications for housing, welfare, and employment.
In 2016 the church donated $10 million to the refugee crisis in Europe.
Working with the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, Catholic Charities, and others, the LDS Church gave millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of blankets, clothes, emergency medical supplies, food to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.
A Few Current Events (2022)
- Kentucky flood victims were assisted by 2,800 LDS “Helping Hands” volunteers 27,000 hours of work
- In Rome, the Church helped provide safe places where refugees could gather, get food, and find acceptance.
- In Liberia, where one out of three children has stunted growth, the Church provided training regarding diet, nutrition, and sanitation.
- In Utah, the Church help create backyard gardens for sober living homes.
- In Tahiti, the Church donated to shelter homes for victims of abuse.
- In Africa, the Church held its Annual All-Africa Service Day. LDS “Helping Hands” provided thousands of hours of service for blood drives, neighborhood and school cleaning, painting, and restoration projects.
The classic tale of “The Other Wise Man,” by Henry Van Dyke, begins:
He who travels to heaven alone to save his soul
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal,
While he who travels in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.
(See: “LDS Humanitarian Services,” Wikipedia; “Church of Latter Day Saints Sets Example for Disaster Preparedness,” Robert Ottenhoff, Center for Disaster Philanthropy; 3 Mar 2013; “Church Responds to More than 100 Disasters in 2012,” Church News, 5 Mar 2013; “LDS aid in Ukraine disaster,” Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Mar 2022; “How Church Organizes Disaster Relief,” 19 Oct 2020, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org; See also: numerous articles at https//newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org.)