“Hurricane Mitch Victims Receive Christmas Gifts,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 74
During the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on 6 December 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley recalled how a two-year-old Honduran girl was left an orphan when her father died during Hurricane Mitch. “I would hope that at this Christmas season, when there will be no gift-giving among these devastated people, this small orphan girl might receive perhaps a little taste of candy, something sweet and delicious,” President Hinckley said. “I must see that that happens. Perhaps just a little will be present enough for that tiny child in La Lima, Honduras.”
As a result of President Hinckley’s remarks, about 4,000 pounds of candy and 35,000 pounds of toys and clothing were shipped to children in Honduras and Nicaragua. Church-organized shipments during December 1998 also included school supplies, cleaning and building equipment, disposable diapers, and additional emergency supplies. Gathered and packaged at the Church’s Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City, the Christmas donations were provided by corporations, government agencies, Church wards and stakes, and individuals of numerous faiths.
“Our hope is that this will reach out to many of those in need,” said Garry R. Flake, director of Church humanitarian service. “Wonderful, generous donations have come from many groups, both in Utah and throughout the United States. There was an immediate response to President Hinckley’s remarks.”
Of ongoing assistance efforts, Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy, President of the Central America Area, said, “We don’t think there has been any area where members were adversely affected who haven’t been cared for.” Concerns remain about the spread of disease, particularly conjunctivitis, foot fungus, and mosquito-carried dengue and malaria. “While there are problems of health among the members, there are not any serious cases,” reported one stake president in Honduras.