“Church Gives Humanitarian Aid throughout the World,” Ensign, June 2001, 76
Through their donations and acts of service, Church members strive to follow the Savior’s teachings and the Prophet Joseph Smith’s counsel “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all” (Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, 732).
In this spirit, members make contributions to the Humanitarian Aid Fund, and the Church uses these contributions to help people in need all over the world. This assistance most often takes the form of life-sustaining resources during emergency situations and support for programs that help people become more self-reliant. The Church has sent food, clothing, medical equipment, and educational supplies to 147 countries. Much of this aid has been given in cooperation with charitable agencies, including the Red Cross, Mercy Corps International, Food for the Poor, World Opportunities International, and the Children’s Hunger Fund.
Most donations to the Humanitarian Aid Fund are made by members through their wards and branches using the Tithing and Other Offerings form. These donations are used to purchase needed materials, to pay shipping costs, or to implement humanitarian programs throughout the world.
To become self-reliant and to care for one’s own is an underlying principle of the gospel. More than 300 missionaries serve in humanitarian assignments throughout the world helping people become self-reliant so they can fulfill their moral obligation to care for themselves and their families. Examples: In China medical specialists teach better ways to treat infants born with serious complications. A couple from Idaho teaches rural farmers in Belarus how to increase their potato crop production. A couple in Ghana teaches computer skills to youth in a vocational training program.
Often the recipients of humanitarian aid are invited to help meet their own needs. In Russia, for instance, a project was recently approved to provide blankets for a hospital. Fabric was bought and sisters from the local branch worked together with hospital staff to make quilts. In rural Kenya, a village needed new latrines because the old ones had dirt floors and promoted disease. Villagers asked the Church to provide the materials; the villagers then dug the pits, lined them with rocks, and built the outbuildings.
Also, members often labor in behalf of people they will never see. In the United States, for example, many make items such as school kits, hygiene kits, newborn kits, and quilts that are sent to people in need throughout the world.
Members’ generous donations and acts of service bless millions of people and make possible the Church’s humanitarian efforts. Latter-day Saints have responded enthusiastically to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s words: “In a world where there is so much of hunger and suffering, where death walks hand in hand with little children, we must continue and enlarge our efforts, not permitting politics or other factors to hold back the hand of mercy” (“Look to the Future,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68).