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LDS stake in Virginia Helps Gather more than 2.5 tons of Food for Local Food Bank

Children line up for a 100-yard dash as part of the Oakton Stake's food drive. (Laurie Snow Turner)

Children line up for a 100-yard dash as part of the Oakton Stake’s food drive. (Laurie Snow Turner)

OAKTON, Va. — More than 2.5 tons of food was collected by members of the Oakton Virginia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a food drive and races Nov. 5 for the LINK Against Hunger program that benefits those in need in Herndon, Sterling and Ashburn, Va.

To celebrate the LDS Church’s 75th anniversary of its welfare program, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor of the First Presidency, asked members around the world to perform a day of service.

Oakton Virginia Stake President Scott Wheatley said the stake members’ goal for the day of service was “to let those around us know we love and follow Jesus Christ in all we do. What better way to convey that message to our community that by serving them? We want our community to know that because we follow Jesus Christ, we serve others.”

The Oakton Virginia Stake includes nine wards organized geographically in the northern Virginia area, including Reston, Herndon, Spring Lakes (a Spanish-speaking congregation), Chantilly, Franklin, Fair Oaks, Vienna, Oakton and Oak Marr.

The event’s theme was “Put a Lid on Hunger” and included a 5K run or walk, a one-mile stroll and 100-yard dashes for children. One of the entry options was donating five cans of food.

More than 500 area Mormons attended the event, which raised about 2.5 tons of food. Another $1,000 worth of food will be donated to LINK from the LDS Church’s Washington, D.C., Bishop’s Storehouse, which is a church facility that provides basic foods and essential household items to needy individuals and families.

“What a machine they had going,” said Lisa Lombardozzi, president of LINK. “We had trucks parked along the curb, people pulled up and unloaded their food into the trucks and headed off to register for the walk/run. We had LDS missionaries helping us put the food into boxes and we kept filling truck after truck.”

President Wheatley said the stake members’ goal was to fill at least five trucks. “We hoped to overwhelm this good charity with our generous donations. We wanted them to see Christians in action as we showed up in droves with arms full of food to help the hungry. I think we achieved that goal,” he said.

“We got more food than we could fit on our shelves,” Lombardozzi said. “I welcomed the crowd and estimated there were a thousand people there! I thought I’d gather up the few canned goods that came in late. By the time the event was over, my little pile grew and grew. We made several trips back to my car to load up. I ended up with an SUV full of food and had to utilize another minivan, in addition to the seven truckloads of food, to cart it all back to the pantry.”

Anthony Foy, a LINK volunteer who helped load the trucks said, “It is humbling that all those people came together, and the sole fundraising focus was LINK. The LDS community certainly did bless our ministry.”

“Wow! What a rewarding day,” said Shon Beury, chairman of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Herndon and a LINK board member. “I’m so glad I was there to witness Christianity in action. How blessed we are!”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell complimented the LDS Church’s welfare program and issued a day of service proclamation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He said, “2011 marks the 75th anniversary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Welfare Program, which has improved the lives of countless individuals in our commonwealth, these United States, and throughout the world, and which should be a model to all organizations and faiths as we work together to build a true commonwealth of opportunity.”

President Wheatley said, “To become a ‘model of service’ to other organizations and faiths, we need to become an integral part of our community by sharing what we know and what we have. This event helped us move in that direction.”


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U.S. Senate Recognizes Church’s 75th Anniversary of Welfare Program

LDS Church Welfare Program

This month the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the 75th anniversary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Welfare Program. Aside from noting the program’s historic anniversary, the resolution congratulated, “the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the significant contribution that its Welfare Program has had on United States citizens and many people throughout the world; and commend[ed] the many efforts made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members, through its Welfare Program, to serve others regardless of religious affiliation.” The full text of the resolution can be read here.
In the April 2011 General Conference of the Church, President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor of the First Presidency, announced that, “To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Church welfare program, members worldwide will be invited to participate in a day of service.” Consequently, members have participated in various service projects around the world organized by local church leaders.

Recently, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency, reflected on the good which such service-oriented efforts produce.

“I experienced firsthand the blessings of the welfare program of the Church,” said President Uchtdorf during the Church’s October 2011 General Conference. “Even though I was a young child, I still remember the sweet taste of canned peaches with cooked wheat and the special smell of the donated clothing sent to the postwar German Saints by caring Church members from the United States. I will never forget and I will always cherish these acts of love and kindness to those of us who were in great need.”

President Uchtdorf also stated, “This work of providing in the Lord’s way is not simply another item in the catalog of programs of the Church. It cannot be neglected or set aside. It is central to our doctrine; it is the essence of our religion.”

See examples of the Church’s humanitarian aid and welfare programs in action.


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U.S. Dollar Is The Next Financial Shoe To Drop

Obverse of the Series 2006 $20 bill
Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of headlines lately about the debt issues in the United States (not to mention Europe and Japan). But what does this issue mean for the investor? It appears that the whole system of fiat currencies is being challenged. In other words, the real issue here is how long will the Dollar (and Euro and Yen) remain viable currencies?

A little historical background is useful. By definition, fiat currency only has value because of government regulation or law; it is not convertible into anything, like silver or gold, and is declared as legal tender by the issuing country. When citizens and foreigners lose faith in a fiat currency, the value can turn to the price of confetti. In the case of the United States, the term “not worth a continental dollar” originated during the Revolutionary War when the U.S. Continental (a fiat currency) fell badly in value and, by 1780 was worth 1/40th of face value, and by May 1781 was so worthless it ceased to circulate as money. Their fall was blamed on too many bills being printed and counterfeits circulated by the British waging economic warfare. The founding fathers of the United States were very aware of the problems with fiat currency. To prevent runaway inflation from happening again, they included in Section 10 of the United States Constitution the statement that states could not “emit Bills of Credit” and “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” At first they included language allowing the federal government to print money, but this was later stricken from the final version. Yes, the founding fathers did not give the federal government of the United States the explicit constitutional right to print fiat currency. Jumping forward to the modern era, rising deficits during the Johnson and Nixon administrations led to a run on the dollar in the late 1960s when foreign holders sought to convert their paper dollars to gold before the U.S. vaults became empty. Facing complete loss of the nation’s gold, Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard in 1971, defaulting on the U.S promise for countries to redeem their dollars for gold. This event made the U.S. dollar a fiat currency.

Since then, the U.S. money supply has exploded in size. By 2005, it had expanded 13 fold (for perspective, over the prior 34 year time period from 1937 to 1971 it only doubled). Such a rapid monetary expansion can lead to hyperinflation, but the U.S managed to avoid this problem because the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. This has forced the world to buy and hold dollars. But reserve status is a privilege, not a right, and while substitution would be difficult, there are increasing calls around the world to remove the dollar’s reserve status. Recent commentary by the official Xinhua news agency of China questioned whether the U.S. dollar should continue to be the global reserve currency. “International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country,” the commentary said.

Loss of reserve status would be catastrophic for the value of the dollar. Foreigners would rush to get out of dollars, either by outright currency conversion or by bidding up the value of U.S. goods as they rushed to unload their dollar holdings. The exact impact is hard to calculate, but according to Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital, the dollar could devalue by more than 70%. And this devaluation may be anticipated in the financial markets judging by the price action in gold and Swiss Francs.

The United States is in a bad financial situation where spending as a percent of GDP is above 25% and U.S. federal receipts as a percent of GDP is below 15% (Robert V. Green derived these figures from NBER, CBO, and White House data and published them at; never since World War II has the difference between these numbers been so large. The sad reality is the United States, in political gridlock, has lost control of its financial well being and the government’s cash flow now depends largely on the willingness of the Chinese government to buy its new Treasury debt.

The Chinese buy our debt because U.S. Treasuries have a deep liquidity pool unequaled by other places the Chinese can invest there excess cash. When the Chinese buy our debt, they also deflate the value of their currency with the view that a weaker Chinese currency helps their country by reducing the cost of their exported goods. While it is easy to argue that such a policy helps Chinese exports, the policy stunts domestic Chinese consumption by reducing domestic spending power with the overall effect of lowering China’s standard of living. By buying the U.S debt, China is essentially funding the U.S. consumer at the expense of the Chinese consumer. But the Chinese, as they lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, will find other places to invest their money.

In the end, the history of highly indebted nations that rely on overseas creditors is not good. My advice is it is far better to be early getting out of U.S dollars than late.

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