Latter-day Saint Charities, an arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released its 2020 Annual Report on Friday.

The report lists a plethora of services, initiatives and additions to its services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report states that during 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities shifted its focus to meet emerging needs during the pandemic.

“[We] truly seek to live the first and second great commandments. When we love God with all our hearts, He turns our hearts to the well-being of others in a beautiful, virtuous cycle,” said President Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, in the report.

“Thanks to the support of partners and donors, our 2020 COVID-19 response effort included 1,031 projects in 151 countries and territories,” the report stated.

Some of those projects entailed:

  • Sending medical and emergency supplies.
  • Training healthcare professionals regarding physical, mental and emotional support for those struggling.
  • Adjusting production schedules at church-owned canneries and food processing plants to meet increasing community needs.

Two partnerships of significance in 2020 were with the Navajo Nation and the Black 14 Philanthropy.

“For years the Navajo Nation has worked to be self-sufficient and improve essential infrastructure in their communities while improving quality of life,” the report states. “Latter-day Saint Charities has partnered with the community to support these self-reliance efforts with humanitarian relief programs.”

These programs are self-sustaining and include projects related to clean water, electrical power and gardening. Some 700 family gardens have been established and are maintained by the residents, the report said.

The COVID-19 crisis introduced new challenges. To help meet these emerging needs, Latter-day Saint Charities donated food, water, fuel, personal protective equipment, cleaning and household products, and medical supplies, the report said.

One donation included 16 combined truckloads of food from the church’s bishop’s storehouses and private donations for those in need. This aid supported members of the Navajo community in their efforts to maintain their way of life and their self-reliance.

The Black 14 Philanthropy was founded in 2019 by 11 surviving former members of the 1969 University of Wyoming football team. At the time, these players had been removed from the team for suggesting a peaceful protest of a race-based church policy in advance of a college football game against BYU, according to the report.

“Working together decades later, Latter-day Saint Charities and the Black 14 Philanthropy united to bring 180 tons of food to nine cities throughout the United States to help people in need,” the report said. “Latter-day Saint Charities was pleased to partner with the Black 14 Philanthropy not only to serve those in need but to join together in an effort to heal the hurts of the past.”

Latter-day Saint Charities partnered with the humanitarian organization Convoy of Hope to provide 30 million meals to feed school children in nine developing countries and areas. In Somalia, Latter-day Saint Charities partnered with the World Food Programme to provide 35,000 nutritious meals to children and their families at home after their schools closed in response to COVID-19. The food supply lasted for at least five months while schools were closed.

In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities helped 7,188,356 people in eight countries with vaccinations for diseases such as diphtheria, influenza, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, measles, malaria, rubella, and more, according to the report.

In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities supported millions of refugees around the world who were forced to leave their homes because of war, famine, dangerous living conditions, and disease.

For many refugees and displaced people, COVID-19 heightened already very challenging circumstances. Latter-day Saint Charities and its partners responded to the refugee crisis using a three-pronged approach:

Immediate relief

  • : Providing support to people who are fleeing and need basic survival materials, including food, water, shelter and clothing.

Long-term support

  • : Meeting long-term needs such as education support for children, medication and equipment for health clinics, and mental health interventions to address the uncertainty and trauma caused by displacement.

Resettlement support

  • : Helping refugees improve their livelihoods and providing language training for displaced people who are forced to start over.

In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities provided funds to 23 agencies to benefit 1,813,072 refugees, internally displaced people, and host community members in 39 countries with emergency food, shelter, water, sanitation and health support.

“In the United States, we’ve supported 8,988 people in resettlement efforts. We also partnered with community organizations and law schools to help over 12,000 immigrants in 2020,” the report said.

There were approximately 401,548 beneficiaries who received vision care services in 2020 from Latter-day Saint Charities and its partners in 17 countries.

Across the world, Latter-day Saint Charities works with local organizations to help them solve problems and meet the needs of their own communities. In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities supported 654 locally managed projects in 99 countries and territories.

JustServe, a volunteer arm of Latter-day Saint Charities, was created in 2012, more than 570,000 volunteers have registered for more than 100,000 projects from nearly 11,000 organizations, according to the report.

In 2020, almost 75,000 volunteers registered to help with nearly 20,000 new projects from more than 2,000 new organizations

The church maintains 15 farms, five canneries, and 110 food distribution centers called bishop’s storehouses, all staffed primarily by local volunteers.

The LDS Church also has five additional processing plants that specialize in meat, milk, bread, grain and pasta, and soap. These facilities help provide assistance to church members in need and to local community partners.

In 2020, the church sent over 800 truckloads of food to 380 food banks, homeless shelters and charitable agencies throughout the U.S. Collectively, these trucks supplied over 26 million meals to those in need. These truckloads came from several of the church’s 110 bishop’s storehouses in the U.S. and Canada.

The main warehouse distribution center is located in Salt Lake City, with five additional regional hubs located in Oregon, California, Indiana, Georgia and Canada.

The food was delivered by 46 dedicated long-haul truck drivers for Deseret Transportation, who drove more than 1.6 million miles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of North America, the church works with local grocery chains to help provide members in need with food, according to the report.

The Perpetual Education Fund is a financial resource that helps individuals outside the United States enroll in local education programs to gain employable skills in 75 countries. Students are given loans to assist in their payments for education and training. Once students graduate and are successfully employed, they repay the loan so that others may benefit from the program. This program is funded through donations from members and other friends.

With COVID-19, loan payments and interest charges were suspended to ensure that students would be able to meet their basic needs amid financial hardships caused by the pandemic.

By the end of 2020, the new program had helped over 100,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the program’s inception in 2001.

Readers who would like to see the full report may visit http://churchofjesuschrist.org.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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