First Presidency has approved humanitarian projects in 57 countries to battle COVID-19
Church approves 110 global coronavirus aid projects, asks Utah members to help sew 5 million medical masks for health care workers
SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saint leaders have approved 110 COVID-19 humanitarian aid projects in 57 countries, including one in which they are asking church members in Utah to help sew 5 million clinical health masks for health care workers.
The projects include providing food, hygiene products, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, cash and other commodities to humanitarian agencies, health ministries and hospitals, according to a letter issued Tuesday afternoon by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See the full letter below.)
The letter’s release came five days after the church joined millions around the world in Good Friday fasting and prayer for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We gratefully acknowledge those who have joined with us in prayers and fasting for heaven’s help to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the First Presidency wrote in the letter. “We know God will hear and answer our prayers.”
The leaders said that the faith’s scriptures teach that believers must be anxiously engaged in relieving suffering. They said part of the church’s temporal response to the pandemic includes converting operations at Beehive Clothing facilities in five countries to the sewing of personal protective equipment needed by health care workers. Beehive Clothing facilities usually manufacture religious clothing.
The facilities that will alter operations are in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, the Philippines and Utah.
The project to sew 5 million masks in Utah is part of a partnership between Latter-day Saint Charities, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health. The church’s Relief Society is leading the church’s side, the letter said, and church members who join the project will sew the masks in their homes.
“We’re trying to work with governments (and) community leaders and find out what they need and then respond,” Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and a member of the Relief Society general presidency, said in a news release. “We have mobilized the Relief Society and their families to help with some of these projects.”
Last month, the Deseret News reported that the church had provided COVID-19 aid in 16 countries, including Italy, Iran and China.
That story also noted that the church has ramped up production at its canneries and food processing plants. Since then, the church has sent dozens of truckloads of food to food banks across the United States.
The church also has allowed its buildings in some places to be used to help in the crisis. For example, a church meetinghouse in San Antonio, Chile, was converted into a field hospital with 48 beds.
San Antonio Provincial Gov. Gabriela Alcalde Cavada called it “a really gigantic contribution, from an incomparable heart” and said it “is the first field hospital in the country, which would not be possible if we did not have the will, affection and dedication with which the church has always been ready to support the community.”
And on Monday, the Utah Food Bank used a Latter-day Saint chapel in Taylorsville as a mobile distribution site. A photo taken from a drone showed more than 80 vehicles snaking through the parking lot. The church is a major contributor to the food bank.
Read the full letter below:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Opportunities to Address COVID-19 Needs
We gratefully acknowledge those who have joined with us in prayers and fasting for heaven’s help to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We know God will hear and answer our prayers. We have been taught to be anxiously engaged in relieving suffering and caring for those in need (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:27).
To that end, we are joining with other organizations around the world to address specific needs related to the pandemic. For example, our Beehive Clothing facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, the Philippines and Utah are temporarily shifting their operations from the manufacture of religious clothing to the sewing of masks and gowns needed by local health care professionals and communities. In Utah, the Relief Society is leading our participation in a partnership between Latter-day Saint Charities, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health. Church members, in their homes, will help sew 5 million clinical face masks, which will be donated to healthcare workers.
To date, we have approved over 110 COVID-19 relief projects in 57 countries. Most of these are done with trusted partners from humanitarian agencies, health ministries and hospitals, which allows us to use our resources — including food, hygiene products, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, cash and other commodities — in places where they can do the most good.
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.
THE FIRST PRESIDENCY