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LDS Church Emergency & Disaster Relief Report – 2011

With many disasters and severe weather incidents, 2011 was an active year for Mormons’ church service around the world.

Mormons’ church service – Mormon helping handsThe earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan was the worst disaster of the year, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent immediate aid and still continues to help. The LDS Church provided more than 250 tons of supplies, food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel. Church-sponsored volunteers numbering over 20,000 have donated 175,000 hours of service in Japan. Church Humanitarian Services has worked with and continues to donate equipment and supplies to 20 of 54 fishing co-ops wiped out by the disaster. Latter-day Saints within Japan mobilized to help their stricken neighbors. Fifty-two Mormon meetinghouses were also damaged and have since been repaired.

Other disasters struck different parts of the world, which experienced flooding, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and a hurricane (Irene). They occurred in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Brazil and the Philippines, as well as the Midwest and southern United States. Latter-day Saints in each of these areas also donated their time and efforts. “Mormon Helping Hands” is the name of groups of Mormons gathered to help in relief efforts on the ground. They can mobilize locally or travel, sometimes at their own expense.

In Germany, 9,000 Latter-day Saints and their neighbors worked side-by-side to donate 34,000 hours in support of children battling cancer. (Read about other Mormon Helping Hands projects.)

2011 was the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Perpetual Education Fund, funded by donations from Latter-day Saints. This fund helps with schooling expenses for returned-missionaries from impoverished countries. The money is loaned to them, so they can afford advanced education. The loan is paid back as they join the work force, and then loaned to the next worthy young person. Thousands have achieved better employment through this program since its inception.

Additional Resources
Basic Mormon Beliefs — Official LDS Church Website

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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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