The Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center


The product of this high-volume enterprise is service—worldwide.

You may already know that the Church often sends clothing and other supplies to disaster victims and those in need. But have you ever wondered where those shipments come from and how they’re put together?

The answers are found at the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City.

The shipments are made possible through donations of several kinds.

• Deseret Industries is a thrift store and rehabilitation center with 49 stores in the western United States. When Deseret Industries receives more clothing than needed for its sales floors, it ships the surplus to the humanitarian center, where it is sorted and baled for shipment.

• Companies and institutions also make donations—medical equipment and supplies, computer equipment, elementary school texts (from school districts and publishers), and used materials that would otherwise be scrapped. For example, fabric seat covers donated by a major airline are made into bags that are filled with basic school supplies for students who could not afford them—pencils, paper, and a writing slate. These school kits are shipped to schools around the world.

• Many donations come from individuals. Most are handmade items—baby clothes for newborn kits, leper bandages, toys, quilts, hospital gowns for children. Some donate wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers that are no longer needed. Medical supplies and computer parts have been donated in large quantities; often members who know of their availability have put donors in contact with the Church.

• Humanitarian aid funds donated by members are used to buy some basic medical and hygiene supplies that don’t come in as donations.

Prepackaged shipments of basic medical and hygiene supplies and equipment are stored on pallets at the Humanitarian Center, ready to be loaded onto a truck and sent out at a moment’s notice, just like the bales of clothing or boxes of books.

There is one other impressive aspect of the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center: while it is serving people in distant parts of the world, it also provides employment and job training for 130–40 workers at any given time, many of them refugees from other countries.

[photos] Photography by Welden C. Andersen, except as noted

[photos] Above: Miriam Dekoundam, from Chad, sorts some of the millions of pounds of clothing that come through the Humanitarian Center each year. Right: Stacked bales of clothing await shipment. Left: Shrink-wrapped modules of boxed medical supplies are ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice. Below left: Missionaries and workers at the Humanitarian Center box up school kits, each filled with basic supplies for one elementary student, that will be shipped to schools throughout the world. (Photo by Don L. Searle.)

[photos] Top: Donated books await sorting and packaging for shipment. Above: Handmade quilts, afghans, and comforters donated by members go out in Humanitarian Center shipments and often become treasured necessities for displaced victims of disaster or war.

[photos] Above: Hygiene materials, items for newborns, and rolled leper bandages donated by members. Below: Navy Tim Johnson packs school supplies into school kit bags made from airline seat covers.

[photos] Above: Crutches and walkers, some awaiting refurbishing, go out quickly when there is need for an emergency medical shipment. Far right, bottom: Donated wheelchairs have proved to be blessings for the needy in many parts of the world. Far right, center: Leonor Abed inspects hygiene kits assembled by Church members and groups. Right: Donated medical equipment often includes sophisticated machinery like these incubators for newborns.