This week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it has made donations of medical supplies and food in 57 nations that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are "many projects underway," according to the church's press release, which noted that the church is now part of 110 different Covid-related relief projects. Rather than having to create its own relief infrastructure from the ground up in all those places, it has partnered with longstanding charitable organizations such as Project HOPE, Save the Children, Fatherland Front and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
In a statement from the First Presidency, the church said it is giving "food, hygiene products, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, cash and other commodities" to these projects, and learning from people on-site about what is most needed.
One item of particular interest is that Beehive Clothing, which manufactures temple garments and other sacred items for Latter-day Saints (Mormons) around the world, has pivoted its facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, the Philippines and Utah so that it can produce face masks instead.
This is wonderful to see. After the church's General Conference earlier this month, I noted my disappointment at how seldom the pandemic was mentioned, and the absence of calls to action to get rank-and-file members involved in helping:
General Conference was a ready-made opportunity to do good in the world, to demonstrate that we’re not merely observers of a crisis. I know from reading the Deseret News that the Church has made small but important donations of food and medical supplies in recent weeks. I was prepared—eager, more like—at conference to hear that we had started doing far more than this. But . . . crickets.
But things are happening! This is great!
(And lest you think I am imagining that my words or those of countless others who expressed disappointment had anything to do with this announcement, nope nope nope. The wheels of the church's bureaucracy grind very slowly. These efforts have likely been afoot for several months. Why they were not discussed at General Conference, however, remains a mystery.)
I'm a fan of the language of the announcement as well as its substance. "Latter-day Saints Participate in Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts," reads the headline. The emphasis is on the outstanding work that is already being done by relief agencies around the world, and how our donations can help these "trusted partners" continue and expand their efforts. There is sense of a humility and cooperation. We're joining a fight and gladly acknowledging we are far from the only soldiers here.
In addition to donating key resources, the church is now asking its members to help however they can:
We invite our members to participate in these and other relief projects in their areas and communities as opportunities arise and as local government directives and personal circumstances allow. May we be blessed in our efforts to care for others and provide hope and help to our Heavenly Father’s children everywhere.
To that end, Sharon Eubank, who is the president of Latter-day Saint Charities and the first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said that the Relief Society has been mobilized to help with making masks, apparently with help from any members of their families who sew. The goal is to create 5 million face masks to donate to health care workers.
Amen and amen! Now, if I can only figure out how to operate a sewing machine without it necessitating a trip to the emergency room . . .