How 2019 humanitarian highlights were fueled by helping hands, generous hearts

President Russell M. Nelson marvels at the many times presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors have thanked him for the Church’s humanitarian aid to their respective nations.

Other world leaders have visited the First Presidency — expressing hope for the Church to be established in their lands.

“They know that Latter-day Saints will help build strong families and communities, making life better for others wherever they live,” said President Nelson during the October 2019 general conference.

Regardless of where they call home, he added, Latter-day Saints feel passionately “about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”

Great joy comes from helping “our brothers and sisters” — no matter where they live.

One of the long-established ways the Church and its members continue to heed the Second Great Commandment — to love one’s neighbor — is by contributing and participating in the Church’s wide-ranging global humanitarian program.

Since the Church launched its humanitarian outreach program in 1984, Latter-day Saint Charities has provided more than $2 billion in aid to bless those in need. Assistance is offered to people regardless of their church affiliation, nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender or political persuasion.

Meanwhile, volunteers utilizing Church-sponsored humanitarian programs such as JustServe.org are providing countless, on-the-ground service hours in the aftermath of natural disasters and during other times of crisis and need.

“You are the ones who make all this possible,” President Nelson told his worldwide audience. “Because of your exemplary lives, your generous hearts and your helping hands, it is no wonder that many community and government leaders are praising your efforts.”

The year 2019 again witnessed episodes, large and small, of “generous hearts” and “helping hands.” 

Here are a few highlights:

— For the third consecutive year, the Church funded a $4 million grant to nine national refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. The donation was given to nine East Coast charitable organizations authorized to resettle refugees in the U.S.

Sister Sharon Eubank, second from left, presents a grant from the Church to the Reverend Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on May 14, 2019 The grant will be used to assist refugee resettlement efforts in the United States.

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are under a heavenly obligation to love God and love our neighbors in better ways,” said Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and first counselor in the Church’s Relief Society general presidency.

Sister Eubank visited three resettlement agencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. on May 14. A day later, she visited three similar agencies in New York City.

“We are impressed by the innovative approaches refugee resettlement agencies are using to help people learn English, find jobs and culturally adapt to the United States,” she said. “Our partnership is meant to accelerate the work and highlight ways families can get involved in helping refugee neighbors settle into a new place.”

— In 2019, Latter-day Saint Charities once again partnered with other humanitarian organizations engaged in a global effort to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), a deadly disease that afflicts women of childbearing age and their children.

The disease can be prevented through immunization and hygienic birth practices.

For five years, Latter-day Saint Charities has supported the global MNT Elimination Initiative, a program led by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization, according to Newsroom.

Funding from Latter-day Saint Charities has been used in MNT-elimination efforts in the African nations of Chad, Sudan and South Sudan. Meanwhile, the efforts of the Church and it partners are being credited for helping eliminate MNT in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Those who donate to the Church’s Humanitarian Fund should feel a part of this project to save lives,” said Sister Eubank.

— Partnering with Pacific Assist and Castlemaine Healthy, Latter-day Saint Charities provided more than 130 beds to Port Moresby General Hospital in Papua New Guinea.

Volunteers in Helping Hands vests load hospital beds from Castlemaine Health in Melbourne, Australia, for shipping to the Port Moresby General Hospital in Papua New Guinea.

“The beds we have here in this facility are to enhance movement of patients within the facility itself or to other sections of this building,” said Dr. Kone Sobi, director of medical services at Port Moresby General Hospital, in a Newsroom report. “Although we have 1,200 beds … some of the beds are really in dire need [of] repair and some of them really need to be destroyed … because they’re so old.”

A detailed annual report of Latter-day Saint Charities will be released in early 2020.