“Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places.” —Dallin H. Oaks (“Followers of Christ,” Apr. 2013 general conference)
As members of the Church, we feel that it is our duty to follow the Savior’s example and help those in need, whoever they are.
“Respecting how much a man … shall give … we have no special instructions; … he is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other [church], or in no church at all, wherever he finds them” (Times and Seasons, Mar. 15, 1842, 732).
One way that we help others is through our emergency response efforts.
How does the Church respond in an emergency?
The Church provides relief in situations of civil unrest, famine, and natural disasters by providing short-term resources such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies, and hygiene kits.
This response is accomplished under the direction of local leadership, often in conjunction with local and international relief organizations. Members help by distributing supplies and participating in cleanup.
Leaders work together to complete assigned tasks as outlined in the emergency plan to account for missionaries and members (particularly those previously identified on the Special Needs and Critical Information worksheets), assess and respond to needs, and report to area leadership.
Response efforts should be coordinated with civil authorities and community relief organizations.
In the event of an emergency, ward and stake councils are responsible for accounting for each missionary and member within their areas. They should pay special attention to those who may need additional help (i.e., wheelchair assistance, oxygen, special medications, and so on).
This accounting may be done through ministering brothers and sisters.
Assess missionary and member needs, damage to Church property, and general conditions in the community.
Work in conjunction with civil authorities and relief organizations to supply basic provisions and services—such as food, clothing, sanitation, medical assistance, and temporary shelter to those who have suffered damage to homes or belongings, emotional trauma, injury, or loss of livelihood.
Report the condition of:
- Missionaries and members (as well as their locations).
- Member housing.
- Church properties.
- The community (including roads, public utilities, commerce, facilities, and infrastructure).
These needs should be reported through priesthood channels to the bishop, stake president, and area leadership.
Meetinghouses as Emergency Shelters
Following a disaster, the use of a meetinghouse as a community emergency shelter is occasionally needed. Permission is granted by the stake president, after consulting with a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency. After receiving approval, the priesthood leader should contact his Church physical facilities representative (PFR).
How can I help during an emergency?
If you’ve received first aid training or have other valuable skills, you may be in a position to provide immediate relief in a crisis situation. Identify yourself and your credentials to whoever is in charge, and allow them to direct your efforts.
Neighboring Ward or Stake
Priesthood leaders may encourage members in neighboring wards and stakes to help by gathering and assembling supplies, assisting in disaster cleanup, and other response efforts.
Members living nearby may volunteer to assemble supplies for those affected by the disaster such as:
- Emergency medical supplies.
- Hygiene kits.
Disaster Cleanup and Church Volunteer Safety
Wards and stakes in nearby communities may organize volunteers to assist in community cleanup following a disaster. These relief teams help clean up homes, parks, and other facilities.
All volunteers should adhere to Church safety guidelines for disaster cleanup:
- Wear appropriate clothing and safety equipment.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid contact with hazardous chemicals.
- Be aware of broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.
- Use caution when working around mold or asbestos.
- Treat wounds properly and promptly.
From a Distance
When a disaster has occurred in another part of the world, it is not always practical to ship relief supplies. In these cases, donations and volunteer work may be more sensible.
Members may contribute to the Church Humanitarian Aid Fund using the Tithing and Other Offerings donation slip. The Church uses these donations to purchase supplies locally. By purchasing local goods, the Church avoids customs and shipping fees, stimulates the damaged economy, and provides products that will be familiar to recipients.
Wards, families, and individuals are encouraged to participate in local relief projects where practical.