The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has one of the largest and most effective humanitarian programs in the world. Its volunteer members provide relief in times of war and natural disaster as well as development projects to help communities and individuals to bring themselves out of poverty and free themselves from disease. All services given by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) are provided without regard to race or religion.
The LDS Church is often one of the first responders to disasters. Church leaders work with government officials where the disasters have occurred to determine exactly what the needs of the people are (e.g. food, clothing, medicine, etc.). Then these materials are sent immediately.
After the first critical needs are met, Church leaders then look for ways to help a community recover. The Church’s principle both in humanitarian aid and welfare is to help people become self-reliant. They can do this by teaching skills and providing sustainable resources for individuals and communities to take care of themselves.
Though the donations which fund this humanitarian aid program come mostly from LDS Church members, anyone is welcome to donate, and many people do. These donations make relief projects possible. One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts because the Church takes care of its own overhead costs.
While emergency needs are met on an individual basis, the Church has five global projects which are running all the time. These include neonatal resuscitation training, clean water projects, wheelchair distribution, vision treatment, and measles vaccinations.
Since its organization in 1985, the Church’s humanitarian aid program has aided 178 countries.
The year 2011 was one of unprecedented catastrophes, with losses for just the first half of the year totaling $265 billion, breaking the previous record from 2005 (the year of Hurricane Katrina) by $45 billion. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami damage by itself has been estimated at $235 billion.
In 2011, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to 111 disaster in 50 countries and provided $22 million of emergency aid. In addition, thousands of volunteers also donated time to assist those affected by disasters. The five top Church responses included caring for those affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami (more than 250 tons of supplies and 22,000 volunteers who have provided more than 175,000 hours of service); the Eastern Africa famine ($2.25 million partnered with Islamic Relief, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, and other organizations); United States Tornadoes (relief in 8 states, more than 5,000 volunteers); Thailand flooding (assembled food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes, etc.); and Hurricane Irene (120 tons of relief supplies and 50,000 hours of service from 7,000 Church volunteers).
LDS News: More information on LDS Church Humanitarian Aid