It took all the news from Japan before I realized that there is a cause that inspires me, along with an organization I have been a part of for so long that I sometimes take it for granted. Like most of you, my first response when I hear about a natural disaster is to wonder what I can do to help. It's a comfort to know that the money I donate to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints each month IS a form of helping.
Here is the church's official statement about their Humanitarian Aid program:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides relief and development projects for humanitarian purposes in countries all over the world. Projects operate without regard to the nationality or religion of the recipients.
- Humanitarian service may include emergency response to natural disasters, such as an earthquake or a tsunami, or man-made disasters, such as the effects of war and famine. It may also be part of a longer-term effort to meet serious and more entrenched human needs, such as the need to alleviate disease.
- Within hours of a disaster, the Church works with local government officials to determine what supplies and food are needed. Materials are then immediately sent to the area.
- After urgent needs are met, the Church looks for additional ways to help with the long-term needs of the community. The Church’s approach is to help people become self-reliant by teaching skills and providing resources for a self-sustained life.
- Donations, principally from Church members but also from people around the world, are used to make relief projects possible. One hundred percent of the donations given to the Church’s humanitarian services are used for relief efforts. The Church absorbs its own overhead costs.
- The humanitarian services arm of the Church sponsors five ongoing global projects to help people become more self-reliant. Initiatives include neonatal resuscitation training, clean water projects, wheelchair distribution, vision treatment and measles vaccinations.