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Report: Church aid in 2020 featured more than 1,000 COVID-19 relief projects

Latter-day Saint Charities released its 2020 Annual Report on Friday, giving details about its global COVID-19 response and other humanitarian aid provided to tens of millions of people during the year.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

New details emerged Friday on COVID-19 humanitarian aid provided globally in 2020 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its charity arm released its annual report from church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

What does the report say?

The church conducted 1,031 coronavirus relief projects in 151 countries during 2020, according to the report. Halfway through last year, President Russell M. Nelson already had called the COVID-19 response “the largest-ever humanitarian project of the church.”

  • “We truly seek to live the first and second great commandments,” President Nelson said in a news release issued Friday. “When we love God with all our hearts, He turns our hearts to the well-being of others in a beautiful, virtuous cycle.”
  • “We increased our humanitarian efforts during 2020,” the annual report said. “With the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we adjusted our focus to meet emerging needs.”

Neither the report nor the release detail how much money the church spent on COVID-19 projects, but it runs in the tens of millions of dollars. The church is spending tens of millions more in 2021. For example, the church provided $20 million last month to support COVAX, a global campaign to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines to people in low- and middle-income countries.

What more did Latter-day Saint Charities do in 2020?

  • Adjustments included increased production at church-owned canneries and food processing plants, support for COVID-19 vaccinations around the world, more training provided to health care professionals and increased distribution of medical and emergency supplies.
  • Latter-day Saint Charities donated $2 million to help the World Food Program establish three global hubs in its supply chain network in Belgium, China and the United Arab Emirates and regional food hubs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama and South Africa.

Overall, the church and its charity organization engaged in more than 3,600 projects in 160 countries in 2020. That’s up from 3,221 projects in 142 nations in 2019.

During both years, Latter-day Saint Charities worked together with more than 2,000 partners to serve tens of millions of people. For example, in 2020 it partnered with Convoy of Hope to provide 30 million meals to feed school children in nine developing countries and territories.

What are some of the highest-profile projects?

  • Latter-day Saint Charities partnered with the Black 14 Philanthropy to bring 180 tons of food to nine U.S. cities, helping to heal a wound inflicted in 1969 when 14 Black football players at the University of Wyoming were kicked off the team for suggesting a peaceful protect of a race-based church policy before a game with Brigham Young University.

Since 1985, Latter-day Saint Charities and its affiliates have provided over $2.5 billion worth of assistance in 199 countries and territories, according to Friday’s news release.

Summary of 2020 initiatives

Here is a summary of initiatives provided in 2020, according to the report and news release:

Clean Water: 593,025 people in 23 countries and territories

Emergency Response: 1,147 projects in 158 countries and territories

Food Security: 357,378 people in 18 countries and territories; 114 scholarships awarded in 11 countries and territories

Immunization: 10 campaigns to eliminate diseases in developing countries

Maternal and Newborn Care: 16,473 people in nine countries and territories

Refugee Response: 294 projects in 50 countries and territories, including funds provided to 23 agencies to benefit 1.8 million refugees, internally displaced people and host community members in 39 countries with emergency food, shelter, water, sanitation and health support. In the U.S., nearly 9,000 people were supported in resettlement efforts.

Vision Care: 401,548 people in 17 countries and territories

Wheelchairs: 17,381 people in 16 countries and territories

International Community Projects: 654 projects in 99 countries and territories

U.S. and Canada Community Projects: 50 states and 3 provinces